A New York City Ballet member secretly took sexually explicit photos and videos of a female dancer and shared them with ballet members — in line with the “out-of-control, fraternity-house” atmosphere the company has fostered, a new lawsuit charges.
Alexandra Waterbury, a ballet dancer and former City Ballet student, filed the suit against her ex-boyfriend Chase Finlay, a former City Ballet dancer, and the City Ballet in State Supreme Court on Wednesday.
The suit claims the company has “condoned… an atmosphere where its… employees, donors, principals and [affiliates] abused, degraded and mistreated alcohol, drugs and women.”
Waterbury, 19, was a student at the company’s School of American Ballet from 2013 to 2016, the New York Times reported. She met Finlay, who was employed as a principal at City Ballet, through the company and the two started dating, according to her lawsuit.
This past May, however, Waterbury learned Finlay had been recording and saving nude and sexually explicit photos and videos of her without her knowledge, the lawsuit claims.
Finlay texted the photos and recordings of Waterbury to two other principal dancers, according to the lawsuit. Finlay and other employees, principals and donors at City Ballet also shared sexual images and videos of other women and female ballet members with one another, the suit charges.
The suit claims that Finlay was “frequently asked… about his partying and alcohol use because he smelled like alcoholic beverages,” but that City Ballet “buried its head in the sand” without pursuing the situation.
It also claims Finlay, City Ballet donors and other dancers sent degrading messages to one another about female dancers.
“I bet we could tie some of them up and abuse them like farm animals,” a City Ballet donor wrote to Finlay about a group of American Ballet Theater dancers, according to the suit — “to which… Finlay added, ‘or like the sluts they are,’” the suit says.
City Ballet has also swept other instances of men physically and sexually abusing women in the company “under the rug, offering carte blanche for the other male NYC ballet employees,” the suit says.
“This fraternity-like atmosphere permeates the ballet and its dancers and emboldens them to disregard the law and violate the basic rights of women,” the suit says.
Finlay resigned from City Ballet in August after the company started questioning him about Waterbury’s allegations, according to the Times.
Waterbury’s lawsuit comes less than a year after longtime New York City Ballet leader Peter Martins retired in the midst of a sexual misconduct investigation.
“Every time I see a little girl in a tutu or with her hair in a bun on her way to 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,” she told the Times.
Finlay’s attorney declined to comment to the Times, and City Ballet’s chairman said the company “has no liability for the actions specified in the complaint,” adding that the company has “taken the appropriate disciplinary actions for the dancers involved.”