City Ballet’s Peter Martins Takes Leave of Absence After Misconduct Accusation

Mr. Martins did not immediately respond to requests for comment about these accounts from the dancers.

The Washington Post reported on Thursday that Kelly Boal, a former City Ballet dancer, said in an interview that in 1989, Mr. Martins had “grabbed my shoulder and pulled me out into the hallway, shaking me by the shoulders.” She said he swore at her and accused her of not listening to him. “‘I need to break your spirit,’” she recalled his saying, according to the Post. “He had his hands around my neck, choking me and screaming at me. And then he pushed me away and left.”

Mr. Martins, in a statement to the Post, denied Ms. Boal’s accusation. He also said he had requested the leave of absence from both the ballet, which he has led since the 1980s, and the school, where he is the artistic director and chairman of the faculty. Earlier this week, the school suspended Mr. Martins’s classes.

In 1992, Mr. Martins was charged with third-degree assault against his wife, Darci Kistler, then a principal dancer in the company. Ms. Kistler told the police that her arms and legs had been cut and bruised. The misdemeanor charge was later dropped.

Several dancers interviewed also said they saw Heather Watts, a former City Ballet dancer, walking around with bruises when she was seeing Mr. Martins. In her 1986 autobiography, “Dancing on My Grave,” the ballerina Gelsey Kirkland describes Mr. Martins becoming angry at Ms. Watts at a party and dragging her up and down a flight of stairs. Ms. Watts did not respond to requests for comment.

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