The New York City Ballet must reinstate two male dancers who were fired for sharing nude photos of women and sexually explicit texts, an arbitrator ruled Friday.
The arbitrator decided the company should not have fired Amar Ramasar and Zachary Catazaro, who were both named in a lawsuit by a woman who accused the ballet company of tolerating a “fraternity-like atmosphere” in which male dancers understood that “they could degrade, demean, mistreat and abuse, assault and batter women without consequence.”
Ramasar, a star with the company who also appeared in last year’s Broadway revival of “Carousel,” said he was gratified to have won reinstatement, adding, “As I move forward, learning, and evolving, I am eager to once again dance amongst the colleagues I respect, doing the ballets I have held close to my heart for the past 18 years.”
Catazaro said he was “grateful and relieved” at the ruling but would not return to City Ballet.
Ramasar and Catazaro were first suspended and then fired in September after they were named in a lawsuit by Alexandra Waterbury, a former student with the City Ballet’s affiliated school, the School of American Ballet.
Waterbury sued after discovering, she said, that a third male City Ballet dancer whom she had been dating, Chase Finlay, had shared nude photos of her, taken without her knowledge, with other men in the company.
The lawsuit accused Finlay of sending nude photos of Waterbury to Ramasar. It said Catazaro exchanged unspecified images with Finlay.
While denying that it condoned mistreatment of women, the ballet company terminated the contracts of Ramasar and Catazaro. Finlay resigned before he could be fired.
An email seeking comment was sent Friday to Finlay.
The dancers’ union, the American Guild of Musical Artists, appealed Ramasar’s and Catazaro’s firings to the arbitrator.
City Ballet said in a statement that it believes it was within its rights to fire the dancers but will abide by the ruling. The company noted that Ramasar must undergo counseling on his conduct as a condition of reinstatement.
A lawyer for Waterbury said the arbitrator’s ruling does not affect “the pending lawsuit designed to hold the New York City Ballet and others accountable.”