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.
“I am not a victim in this and no longer wish for my truth to be misrepresented,” wrote Maxwell in a statement. “The incident was a personal matter between me and Amar; and I am OK with what happened.”
In August of 2018, former School of American Ballet student Alexandra Waterbury accused Chase Finlay, then a principal at NYCB and her ex-boyfriend, of sharing sexually explicit photographs of her with Ramasar and several other men without her consent. She also revealed that Ramasar and NYCB principal Zachary Catazaro had exchanged explicit photos of dancers with Finlay, and filed a lawsuit against them, as well as a donor, NYCB and School of American Ballet. Finlay immediately resigned from the company, and Ramasar and Catazaro were ultimately fired. Last April, the dancers’ union, the American Guild of Musical Artists, fought the termination, arguing that it was unjust; Catazaro and Ramasar were reinstated in a decision made by an independent arbitrator. Catazaro declined the offer, but Ramasar chose to return to the company.
Last July, the producers behind West Side Story announced that Ramasar would be joining the cast in the role of Bernardo. The decision has sparked outrage: a Change.org petition to remove Ramasar from the show’s cast started last month by college student Megan Rabin has already gained nearly 24,000 signatures. And in recent weeks Paige Levy, a student at New York’s LaGuardia High School, has taken to social media to organize a series of weekly protests outside of the Broadway Theater, where West Side Story is currently in previews.
In her statement, Maxwell said that she was “exasperated” by online comments. “On social media Alexandra and other people out there have recklessly tossed around phrases like ‘rapist,’ ‘sexual predator,’ and ‘pedophile’ when referring to Amar,” going on to say that in Waterbury’s lawsuit she doesn’t allege that he fits any of these descriptions.
“The only photograph that was shared by Amar was of me, his girlfriend of nearly five years,” Maxwell continued, adding that she knew about them at the time they were taken. Sharing them with Finlay “was a misstep in judgement,” she says, but she and Ramasar have worked through it. She also states that shortly after the lawsuit was filed, she and Waterbury had an hour-long phone conversation, where Waterbury encouraged her to join the suit. “According to her New York City Ballet ‘is worth half a billion dollars’ and I ‘would win, and win, like, a lot’ and ‘could literally have an entirely new life.’ I explained to Alexandra that I had no interest in that.” Maxwell goes on to say, “It is not my mission to diminish the feelings of Alexandra’s but want to bring to light some facts that have been misrepresented across multiple platforms.”
The New York Times reported today that Waterbury’s lawyer, Jordan K. Merson, called the timing of Maxwell’s statement “suspect,” and said her description of their conversation was inaccurate, without going into specifics. In a statement in Waterbury’s Instagram story from earlier today she wrote that Maxwell was taking her words out of context: “Her attempt to discredit me and make me look like I’m after money is sad.”