Peter Martins, who led the New York City Ballet, resigned on January 1 after five dancers accused Martins of physical and verbal abuse dating back to 1993, the New York Times reports.
In a letter Martins wrote to the board announcing his retirement, effective immediately, he asserted that he has denied and will continue to deny the allegations of misconduct.“I cooperated fully in the investigation and understand it will be completed shortly,” Martins wrote. “I believe its findings would have vindicated me.”
In December the New York Times interviewed five dancers, including one who is still at the company, about Martins’ violent behavior towards dancers, including an incident where he allegedly slammed a dancer into a cement wall. Martins was also arrested in 1992 on charges of beating his wife, Darci Kistler, who was also a principal dancer at the company.
The newspaper reports that in recent interviews dancers described a culture of intimidation under Martins which include body-shaming and engaging in sexual relationships with dancers who then reportedly received better roles in productions. The singer-songwriter Vanessa Carlton, who was a former dancer with the School of American Ballet, wrote in a letter to Robert I. Lipp, vice chairman of City Ballet: “Every single ex-dancer that I know, including myself, will be devastated if Peter is allowed to waltz back into his office.”
Board members learned of Martins’s resignation on January 1 as well as news of his arrest on December 28 for driving while intoxicated. The chairman of the board Charles W. Scharf issued a statement, writing: “The board takes seriously the allegations that have been made against him and we expect the independent investigation of those allegations to be completed soon.” The New York City Ballet is now working to find Martins’s successor.