Over the past few weeks, tensions have risen around New York City Ballet principal Amar Ramasar's casting in the Broadway revival of West Side Story, set to open February 20. Ramasar is currently embroiled in a lawsuit surrounding the sharing of sexually explicit photos of a female dancer. In light of a protest against Ramasar's casting scheduled for tonight outside the Broadway Theater, his girlfriend of five years, New York City Ballet corps dancer Alexa Maxwell, identified herself as the dancer in his photos and released a statement sharing her point of view.
"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," she said, "because no one will protect her, like no one protected me."
It was quite a statement, and it got us thinking. Of course, it's heartbreaking to imagine the experiences that Waterbury lists in the lawsuit, and it's easy to see why this would be her reaction.
But should aspiring ballet dancers really "run in the other direction"? Were her alleged experiences isolated incidences perpetuated by a tiny percentage of just one company—or are they indicative of major problems in today's ballet culture within and beyond NYCB's walls?