New York City Ballet leader to take leave amid sexual, violence allegations

Peter Martins, longtime head of New York City Ballet, is seeking to take a leave amid an investigation into allegations of sexual harassment. The move comes after The Washington Post sought comment on a previously undisclosed claim by former NYCB soloist Kelly Cass Boal that Martins behaved violently toward her. Boal is married to Peter…

Peter Martins, the longtime head of New York City Ballet and successor to founder George Balanchine, has announced that he is seeking permission from his board of directors to take a temporary leave of absence amid an investigation into allegations of sexual harassment.

One of the most important directors in the ballet world, Martins, 71, said he would temporarily step away from both NYCB and its affiliated School of American Ballet, which he also heads, in a statement to The Washington Post on Thursday afternoon. He issued the statement after The Post sought Martins’ comment on a previously undisclosed claim by former NYCB soloist Kelly Cass Boal that Martins behaved violently toward her. Boal is married to Peter Boal, artistic director of Pacific Northwest Ballet in Seattle.

Martins denies the allegation.

“However,” he said in the statement, “because of all the distraction these false claims are creating for New York City Ballet and the School of American Ballet, which I love and to which I have devoted the last 47 years of my life, I am asking the board of directors of both institutions for permission to take a temporary leave of absence until such time as the current independent investigation into these matters has been completed.”

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Barbara Hoey of Kelley Drye & Warren, who heads the investigation, refused to comment on it.

Martins’ announcement comes three days after the ballet company and SAB made public on Monday that they have commissioned an independent probe of “general, nonspecific” allegations of sexual harassment made in an anonymous letter. The school also announced it has relieved Martins of his teaching duties while the investigation proceeds. Reached at their home Monday night, Darci Kistler, Martins’s wife, told The Washington Post that Martins had no comment on the matter.

The New York City Ballet board of directors was scheduled to meet Thursday evening to discuss who will take over in his absence.

Public complaints of any kind against directors are exceedingly rare in the highly…

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