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Amar Ramsar's girlfriend and New York City Ballet corps dancer, Alexa Maxwell. Photo by Paul Kolnik, Courtesy of The PR Social

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.

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Liam Scarlett in rehearsal for The Age of Anxiety in 2014. Bill Cooper, courtesy of The Royal Ballet

Yesterday The Times reported that Royal Ballet artist in residence Liam Scarlett has been suspended from the company since last August, following allegations of inappropriate behavior with students. The company brought in the employment firm Linda Harvey Associates to conduct an independent investigation, which is still underway. No findings have yet been made against Scarlett.

Australia's Queensland Ballet, where Scarlett is artistic associate, has also suspended its relationship with the choreographer, and San Francisco Ballet just announced that they're replacing Scarlett's Hummingbird in the company's February program.
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The New York Times reports this morning that Jeffrey Epstein, the wealthy financier accused of sex trafficking dozens of teenage girls and young women, and who died by suicide in prison on August 10 while awaiting trial, preyed on dancers in New York City. The article tells the accounts of four women, two referenced in court papers and two who were interviewed by the newspaper. All were approached by a recruiter—and in half the cases, that person was another dancer.

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Getty Images

The New York Times reported this morning that Jeffrey Epstein, the wealthy financier accused of sex trafficking dozens of teenage girls and young women, and who died by suicide in prison on August 10 while awaiting trial, preyed on dancers in New York City. The article tells the accounts of four women, two referenced in court papers and two who were interviewed by the newspaper. All were approached by a recruiter—and in half the cases, that person was another dancer.

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Photo via Unsplash.com

When news about the lawsuit against New York City Ballet and Chase Finlay emerged last week, plaintiff Alexandra Waterbury, a former School of American Ballet student, told The New York Times:

"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?

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In the wake of the shocking allegations made against Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein, millions of women and men have come forward with their own accounts of sexual harassment. Based on the admissions from the #MeToo, we now know one thing is for certain: Sexual harassment is a pervasive problem within our culture. The dance world and industry is no exception.
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