Peter Martins, longtime Ballet Master in Chief of New York City Ballet and Artistic Director/Chairman of the Faculty for the School of American Ballet, has announced his retirement amid an investigation into accusations of sexual harassment and physical and verbal abuse. According to the New York Times, Martins, who was on leave due to the investigation, informed the NYCB Board of his retirement January 1.
As reported in December 2017, Martins became the focus of a joint investigation by the NYCB and the School of American Ballet after they received an anonymous letter containing allegations of sexual harassment.
Later in the month, five City Ballet dancers, one of whom is still with the company, came forward to the New York Times with details of physical abuse, bullying, and misconduct against Martins.
NYCB dancer Megan Fairchild, seen on Broadway in On the Town, as well as dancer Megan Johnson, came to Martins’ defense, attesting to the Times that he has always behaved professionally with them.
“I’ve never felt in danger in his presence,” Fairchild told NYT. “He’s the person I go to when I’m having trouble in the company or in life.”
In 1992, Martins was arrested with charges of physical abuse against his wife, Darci Kistler, also an NYCB principal dancer. The charges were later dropped.
In his resignation letter, Martins continued to deny the accusations and said that he believed the findings of the investigation would eventually vindicate him. Charles W. Scharf, the chairman of City Ballet’s board, told the Times that the investigation was expected to wrap up shortly.
The investigation has been led by Barbara Hoey of Kelley Dyre’s labor and employment practice.
Martins served as co-ballet master in chief with Jerome Robbins beginning in 1983, assuming the role solely in 1989. He started with the company as a principal dancer in 1970.
He is the latest high-profile individual in the spotlight in an ever-growing network of sexual misconduct allegations sweeping the entertainment industry. In December, American Ballet Theater principal dancer Marcelo Gomes, who has been with ABT for 20 years, resigned from the company following an accusation of sexual misconduct.
The entertainment industry continues to face a strengthening wave of sexual misconduct allegations against men in positions of power, illuminating an issue that extends far beyond the realms of entertainment, and into media, politics, and society at large.