The New York City Ballet and its related School of American Ballet are jointly investigating sexual harassment allegations against longtime leader Peter Martins.
Martins, 71, is currently suspended from teaching his weekly class at the School of American Ballet, where he serves as artistic director and faculty director, The New York Times reported. Martins remains in his role as leader of the City Ballet, the dance company founded by renowned choreographer George Balanchine.
What are the allegations?
An anonymous letter containing "general, nonspecific" allegations of sexual harassment was sent to the ballet school. Part of the investigation centers on the allegation that Martins formed romantic relationships with female dancers. The dance company has a policy that bars relationships between supervisors and their subordinates.
Former students at the school reportedly said: "Martins was known for sleeping with dancers." Some of the dancers claimed that the dancers who slept with Martins were rewarded with better roles.
In an interview with The Washington Post, Wilhelmina Frankfurt, a former City Ballet dancer, said she and other School of Ballet alumni discussed the investigation with School of Ballet Executive Director Carrie W. Hinrichs shortly before Thanksgiving.
Hinrichs called the meeting following a Facebook post of a 2012 article in Psychology Tomorrow. In the article, Frankfurt compares Martins to City Ballet founder, Balanchine, who was also known as Mr. B.
“As a dancer, Peter Martins was a magician," the article read. "To see him dance was to forgive him everything. But as a Dance Master? The only way that Peter rivaled Mr. B was as a Casanova. However, where Mr. B. was charm incarnate, Peter was a basher.”
What did the NYC Ballet and the school say?
In response to the allegations, the School of American Ballet made the following statement:
“The safety and well-being of our students is our absolute priority,” the school said in a statement, adding that it “recently received an anonymous letter making general, nonspecific allegations of sexual harassment in the past by Peter Martins at both New York City Ballet and the school.
“We, together with New York City Ballet, promptly engaged an independent law firm that specializes in such matters to conduct a thorough investigation, despite the anonymous nature of the letter and the lack of specifics. Thus far, the investigation has not substantiated the allegations in the letter or discovered any reason to be concerned about student safety.”
The City Ballet also said the claims appear to be unsubstantiated.
How did Martins respond?
The Times reached Martins by phone. He responded to the allegations by saying, “The company has already addressed it.” He also said he had no further comment at this point.