19-year-old ballerina makes serious "fraternity house" allegations against New York City Ballet
A 19-year-old ballerina is suing the New York City Ballet for sexually exploiting female dancers, as well as a former principal dancer for sharing explicit photos of her without her consent.
Alexandra Waterbury has claimed that an "out-of-control fraternity-like atmosphere" in the dance company allowed male dancers to "degrade, demean and physically abuse women".
The lawsuit, filed on Tuesday in New York State Supreme Court, alleges that a "fraternity-like atmosphere permeates the Ballet and its dancers and emboldens them to disregard the law and violate the basic rights of women."
The former student at the company states that her ex-boyfriend ballerina Chase Finlay swapped nude pictures and videos of her, that were taken without her knowledge or consent, with two other dancers at the NYCB.
In one text cited in the lawsuit, Finlay reportedly shared a nude photo of Waterbury, asking for other naked photos of women in return and saying: "I'll send you some ballerina girls I've made scream".
In another conversation cited, the dancer spoke to a donor about violating female dancers. The donor allegedly said, "I bet we could tie some of them up and abuse them like farm animals", to which Finlay responded with, "or like the sluts they are."
Finlay, who dated Waterbury for a year, apparently handed in his resignation last month after management sought to question him on allegations of him sharing the content with other staff.
Waterbury has claimed that these men "could do whatever they wanted to women, whenever they wanted to do so" as long as it happened in New York City, "where it could be controlled by executives and management"."
However, Finlay's lawyer denied the accusations, telling PIX 11 News that his former girlfriend's "complaint is nothing more than a mass of allegations that ought not to be taken as fact."
The prestigious dance company said it had investigated and found "that each man had violated the norms of conduct that New York City Ballet expects from its employees." Nonetheless, the NYCB refuted claims they had encouraged the men's behaviour, saying in a statement that it "vehemently denies the allegations that the Company has condoned, encouraged, or fostered the kind of activity that Mr Finlay and the others named have participated in."
Waterbury's lawyer Jordan Merson implied that the world of ballet could be bracing itself for its own potential #MeToo movement, stating that her client was not the only victim of this behaviour.
"We are hopeful that other women have the courage to come forward and speak out. I believe we have only scratched the surface of these allegations," he said.
In a post on Instagram, Waterbury spoke out about the effect the experience had had on her mental health, claiming she had not been sleeping more than three hours a night, was having trouble eating and cried every day.
"I know this is my Goliath and I will not be silenced, I will not feel shamed," she wrote. "And for the young girls AND boys that have reached out to me who are too scared to come forward and tell your truth, you have made this fight even more meaningful to me. This is not about winning, this is about truth. This is about safety. This is about justice."