Revealing a director's sex misconduct

Peter Martins, the longtime director of the New York City Ballet, has retired amidst multiple allegations of physical abuse and sexual misconduct. In her first on-camera interview, a former dancer shared details of her allegations of abuse against Martins with Salon.

Wilhelmina Frankfurt, a former NYCB dancer joined Salon’s Alyona Minkovski to discuss her own experiences with Martin, and the steps that the ballet world needs to take moving forward to protect dancers. In an op-ed for Dance Magazine published in December, Frankfurt wrote, “Am I a victim of Martins abuse? Yes. Was it sexual? Yes. Was it consensual? No”. The interview with Salon is the first time Frankfurt spoke on the record to provide more detail.

“It was scary. One incident that occurred happened while I was in the middle of a performance,” Frankfurt said. “He took me and pulled me into his dressing room and, exposed himself to me. And I had on a tutu. I mean, with an American flag on it, and I ran out because I had to do the finale. But you know, I just, I just ran out of the room...the other incident is so big I don’t think I can talk about it”.

As director, Martins had the power to make or break careers, creating a power dynamic that put dancers in a difficult position. Frankfurt said she didn’t report the incidents at the time because there was “no HR department” and “no one to go to”. “I just lived with it the way that everyone lived with it. It was too scary as a dancer because these people determine your life, you know. And all you want to do is dance,” Frankfurt said.

To hear more about what this #MeToo moment means for the world of ballet, watch the full conversation here.

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