As the investigation into claims of sexual harassment by New York City Ballet ballet master in chief Peter Martins remains under wraps, more dancers are speaking publicly on the matter. And while many allegations are decades old, dancers with recent and current ties to the company are becoming more vocal.
Yesterday, Kathryn Morgan—a former NYCB soloist with a hugely popular YouTube channel and an advice column in Dance Spirit—posted a candid video addressing questions she's received about the scandal. Although Morgan left the company in 2012, her post sheds light on the mixed emotions that current NYCB dancers may be feeling right now. "This is an issue that NEEDS to be discussed," she writes in the comments section. "And I appreciate that you all understand I am in no way defending him. I just wanted to give you my honest and true experience with dealing and working with Peter."
In the video, she says that her relationship with Martins at NYCB was completely supportive and professional. "I never had any problems with him," she says, and even goes on to say that he once told her that he felt like a father to her. "However, rumors were always circulating," she continues. "I did hear of his having relationships with female dancers." Without disclosing names, Morgan acknowledges hearing about three affairs in particular during her NYCB career, but adds that "everything was consensual [...] so as far as I know, it was not sexual harassment." (Although one could argue that the imbalance of power between Martins and the dancers calls the consensual nature of these alleged relationships into question.) She also acknowledges that Martins has "a bit of a temper," but that she never personally experienced it or witnessed it herself.
Yet for those who claim they've been on the receiving end of that temper, a troubling picture is emerging. In a recent article in The New York Times, five dancers—including recently retired corps member Alina Dronova and another current NYCB dancer—accuse Martins of physical abuse. Jeff Edwards, a former soloist, notes that he complained to NYCB management and the dancers' union in 1993, to little effect. Victor Jordan Ostrovsky recalls an incident during a dress rehearsal when he was a 12-year-old SAB student, in which Martins grew angry and grabbed him by the neck in a "death lock." And the current NYCB dancer, who asked to remain anonymous, tells the Times: "I have the visual of him standing over me with a fist clenched two weeks before he promoted me."
It remains to be seen how the investigation will conclude, or if NYCB's board of directors will take any action against Martins. Will more dancers come forward publicly to tell their stories—or to come to Martins' defense? And if these allegations are true, why did so many in positions of power at NYCB and School of American Ballet turn a blind eye? We will keep you updated as more information unfolds.