When Miami City Ballet artistic director Lourdes Lopez was a principal dancer at New York City Ballet, she missed her opportunity to honor Jerome Robbins onstage. "Every time there was a celebration for Jerry, I was either injured or had just retired," says Lopez. "I was never able to publicly thank him onstage for all that he taught us and the beauty he left us."
But when Lopez was planning MCB's Jerome Robbins Celebration for the 100th anniversary of the legend's birth, she saw an opportunity. She asked the Robbins Trust to allow her to perform the Ringmaster in Robbins' Circus Polka, a role the choreographer originated himself.
Last night, the New York City Ballet board of directors approved ballet master in chief Peter Martins' request for a temporary leave of absence amidst an ongoing investigation into sexual harassment.
The investigation came to light on Monday, when the New York Times reported that NYCB and the School of American Ballet had hired a law firm to investigate their leader after receiving an anonymous letter detailing instances of harassment.
Yesterday, the first named accuser came forward in the Washington Post: Kelly Cass Boal, a former NYCB dancer and wife of Peter Boal, artistic director of Pacific Northwest Ballet, accused Martins of attacking her after a tense rehearsal. She told the Post's Sarah Kaufman that Martins "grabbed my shoulder and pulled me out into the hallway, shaking me by the shoulders, screaming at me 'You f---ing bitch, why can't you listen to what I have to say? I need to break your spirit.' He had his hands around my neck, choking me and screaming at me. And then he pushed me away and left." Peter Boal and several other sources corroborated Kelly Cass Boal's experience.
A new story in the Times last night includes several additional anonymous sources, current and former dancers who accused Martins of sleeping with dancers who then received better parts, and of being violent in rehearsals. One former dancer recalled a time she asked Martins what she needed to do to be promoted to soloist, and he seemed to suggest that she should sleep with him.