The Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, one of the most prominent global dance companies and a beacon for black performers, has fired its senior artistic director after allegations of sexual harassment went viral on TikTok.
Troy Powell, 51, was dismissed on Monday following an investigation commissioned by The Ailey School in New York City after the allegations began circulating on social media.
Powell was the artistic director of the junior touring company – Ailey II – and a teacher at the school. He had been placed on a leave of absence in June as the investigation occurred, CNN reports.
In a statement released on Monday, the Ailey organization concluded that Powell ‘engaged in inappropriate communications with adults enrolled in the school.’
‘Because his conduct was inconsistent with the standards expected of Ailey’s staff, executive leadership concluded that Mr. Powell could not continue in his position with the organization, and he is no longer employed in any capacity,’ they said in the statement.
Two dancers came forward with an explosive TikTok video, captioning the clip: ‘When you wanna be in Ailey 2… But guys gotta sleep with Troy Powell.’
The video circulated heavily across alumni at the school, with several students and alums posting their own tearful videos online. The initial video has been removed.
An attorney working with the organization’s general counsel then reached out to several of the dancers.
Four of the dancers – three who also spoke with lawyers – explained to CNN that Powell abused his position of power and took part in ‘inappropriate communications’.
They claim that Powell touched them inappropriately or made sexual overtures at them and also sent one of them an ‘unwanted’ photo.
Three of the students said that they were pulled from performances or turned away during auditions after they turned down Powell’s advances. The allegations detailed by the dancers spanned from 2003 to 2011.
Two of the former dancers said that they complained to administrators at the school but Powell was allowed to stay in his position and still traveled with the dancers.
According to his website, which has since been deleted, Powell has been dancing with the studio for decades. He claimed to have been dancing on scholarship at the school starting at the age of nine.
Prior to taking over as artistic director of Ailey II in 2012 and teaching, Powell performed all over the word and in the school’s iconic building in Columbus Circle.
Powell is the latest in teachers from leading US dance institutions hit with sexual harassment allegations against them. Peter Martins, artistic director at New York City Ballet, retired in 2018 after allegations of sexual harassment and physical and verbal abuse. He denied the claims against him.
Marcelo Gomes, star dancer at the American Ballet Theater, resigned in 2017 after being accused of sexual misconduct. He has denied the allegations and has danced with other companies since.
The historic Ailey company was founded in 1958 by legendary choreographer Alvin Ailey, during a time when black dancers struggled to find opportunity in the mainstream due to segregation and racism.
Ailey, from rural Texas, was celebrated for his powerful pieces that showcased the deep history of black America.
According to their website, tuition at the school is $15,000.