Unrest at West Side Story over a dancer’s naked pics

Ivo Van Hove’s new Broadway production of the Leonard Bernstein musical has been marred by nightly demonstrations against one of its dancers, the Bronx-born Amar Ramasar.

Ramasar, 38, had been fired in September 2018, then reinstated by NY City Ballet, after he was sent nude photos of Alexandra Waterbury, a fellow-dancer, without her consent. Waterbury implicated her ex-boyfriend, Chase Finlay, and another NYCB dancer, Zachary Catazaro, in the offensive distribution. Finlay resigned from the company. Ramasar was taken back after intervention by his union, the American Guild of Musical Artists.

We have been asked to clarify that Amar Ramasar didn’t circulate images of Alexandra Waterbury, and Alexandra’s lawsuit does not allege that he did. He received her images from Chase Finlay and did not share them further, and the lawsuit does not allege that he did. Amar replied with an image of his own girlfriend, Alexa Maxwell, who issued a statement last week, that Amar has regained her trust and they are putting this mistake behind them

You can read the lawsuit here.

The producers of West Side Story issued this reason yesterday for retaining him:

The West Side Story Company stands, as it always has stood, with Amar Ramasar. While we support the right of assembly enjoyed by the protestors, the alleged incident took place in a different workplace — the New York City Ballet — which has no affiliation of any kind with West Side Story, and the dispute in question has been both fully adjudicated and definitively concluded according to the specific rules of that workplace, as mandated by the union that represents the parties involved in that incident. Mr. Ramasar is a principal dancer in good standing at the New York City Ballet. He is also a member in good standing of both AGMA (representing the company of NYCB) and Actors’ Equity Association (representing the company of West Side Story).

There is zero consideration being given to his potentially being terminated from this workplace, as there has been no transgression of any kind, ever, in this workplace. The West Side Story Company does not as a practice terminate employees without cause. There is no cause here. The West Side Story Company’s relationship to Mr. Ramasar is completely private to that company and exists solely between Mr. Ramasar and his fellow company members. He is a valued colleague who was hired to play a principal role in this production, which he is doing brilliantly, and which he will continue to do for the entire unabated length of his agreement.”

Waterbury’s supporters on change.org retorted:

The statement released by West Side Story today demonstrates that the production cares more about money and talent than the safety of its performers. Amar Ramasar’s behavior at City Ballet was vile — yet West Side Story chose to hire him anyway. 

Just because the production is not legally obligated to fire him doesn’t eliminate their moral obligation to keep abusers off the stage. Ramasar shared explicit photos of fellow ballerinas without their consent. His behavior was disgusting, damaging and unlawful. 

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  • Need more info on the preceding activities. Why was he reinstated? On what terms did AGMA support him — successfully? Surely Ms. Waterbury is a member of the same union? And she claims his actions were illegal — if so, did she proceed to law?

    That said, all this obviously happened, and the WSS company knows about it. Their statement is very chilly.

      • Thanks for the link.Looks as if Ms. Waterbury has filed suit, and her perp has not been re-hired.

        I agree the article leaves some things unclear.

        But there does seem to be a message from the union that the “rights” of the males trump the comfort in the workplace of the females. Ballet is a very intimate art form — I wonder how female principals will feel dancing with this guy. The union seems to be saying that, no matter what he did and what it indicates about his attitude to women, they will just have to suck it up.

        No wonder he’s available to a Broadway show — NYCB are probably relieved to have him off the premises. Somebody else’s problem. Let’s hope he isn’t.

        • Sorry, but I am confused. Can it really be right for the dancer to be fired for being sent an inappropriate image. He didn’t send the image to anyone.

  • It would a deeply sinister move if he were to be fired from his job because of an online petition, especially as those who have signed it, in the main, can only rely on media reports of the story, rather than the actual facts.

  • Quite a thorny issue.

    To zone in on one aspect though, why do these incidents always involve a defence of the man on the grounds of his talent and/or fame? It’s of zero relevance to their innocence or guilt whether they’re the principal or the work experience. The questions are whether they did what they’re accused of and if they’re guilty, how they should be punished for it.

    Obviously their position is relevant in a more general view of the case, such as if their prominence made it easier to get away with it for a while, but it has nothing to do with their innocence or guilt. I’m fed up of hearing statements which see a high standing in society / an organisation as a form of defence, as if the more important you are, the more innocent you are. As if we’ve not seen over the past few years how much power and influence allow people to get away with horrific things.

  • Ramasar is nothing more than a sick predator. NO decent human shares explicit pictures of others on the Internet or anywhere else. Shame on the West Side Story management. Their actions indicate that they endorse and condone Ramasar’s inexcusable and deplorable behavior.

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