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Ballerina Sues New York City Ballet after Facing Sexual Harassment

New York City Ballet is facing a lawsuit after one ballerina alleged that sexually explicit photos of her were shared within the company.

Alexandra Waterbury is the ballerina compelled to sue the company, filing her lawsuit on September 5th. According to the lawsuit, another ballerina at the company and Waterbury’s ex-boyfriend, Chase Finlay, spread the nude photos of Waterbury – that she didn’t know existed – and spoke of abusing the company’s ballerinas “like the sluts they are.”

Waterbury accused New York City Ballet of having a “fraternity-type atmosphere” among its dancers. With the company’s former ballet master retiring after accusations of sexual harassment and abuse, it’s not surprising that women ballerinas do not feel safe in their own studio.

In response to the harassment faced by Waterbury, another ballerina, Ashley Bouder, stated, “Although this was [allegedly] carried out by a few highly visible men alone, it was allowed to fester in our current leaderless state. The NYCB is searching for a new artistic leader. May we find a moral and fair individual to lead us out of this darkness and into future respect, integrity, and success.”

The lawsuit also details statements made by a New York City Ballet donor. The anonymous donor described his wishes to sexually violate women ballerinas employed at the ballet company, which Finlay responded to with two thumbs up emojis.

Finlay resigned from New York City Ballet, while two other ballerinas were fired. In response to the allegations, Charles W. Scharf, the chairperson of the company, stated, “New York City Ballet is confident there is no basis for this lawsuit, and vehemently denies the allegations that the company has condoned, encouraged, or fostered the kind of activity that Mr. Finlay and the others have participated in, which were off-hours activities that were not known, approved, or facilitated by NYCB.”

Waterbury wishes not only to hold Finlay accountable for his despicable statements and actions, but also to inspire other women during the #MeToo movement.

In a post shared to Waterbury’s Instagram account, the ballerina stated, “Speaking out today lifted a huge weight off of my shoulders. I have been wanting to share this for months but needed to take the necessary steps in doing so. Today freed me and my story. My truth will be known and I will not be silent. My heart is broken for victims of sexual assault everywhere. To understand the strength of the women coming forward is amazing and I applaud you all. In watching them I found the courage to do the same. 2018 is the year of strong women. Do not accept mistreatment and abuse. You deserve equality, let alone basic human decency.”

The conversation around sexual harassment within the workplace is not nearly over, even in workplace environments that are typically dominated by women. Waterbury wishes to inspire women in every aspect, but has a great concern for young ballerinas as well.

Her statement to the New York Times says it all: “Every time I see a little girl in a tutu or with her hair in a bun on her way to ballet class, all I can think is that she should run in the other direction, because no one will protect her, like no one protected me.”

Featured Image by Adam Walker on Unsplash

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