Ballerina Trouble: Sexual Harassment On and Off the Stage
On-stage ballet dancers are the picture of exquisite grace, each step perfectly planned, and each leap ideally executed yet when not performing is appears that the dancers are experiencing unwelcome overtures in their workplace. A recent internal survey was taken by the Paris Opera Ballet has revealed astonishing results. The vast majority of Parisian ballet dancers have either been a victim of harassment or have witnessed the act, a whopping 77% of surveyed dancers. The company's director, Stephane Lissner, defended the company saying that there are procedures in place when such accusations arise and that they have a zero-tolerance policy for any form of harassment. Again the result of the survey disputes this with 87% saying that there are deep problems with the reporting process relating to the procedure and privacy of the victims.
Dance director of the Paris Opera Ballet, Aurélie Dupont, also came under fire after the survey results were released. There were many quotes from dancers damning her military-like style, even comparing her to Joseph Stalin. A stunning 90% of the dancers polled felt that they had not been properly managed. Others wrote that Dupont's words were "cutting" when she chose to speak to the dancers and that her vision was unclear. The company's management defended Dupont and even praised her as
"excellent" in her job role.
It is obvious that there is a high level of unhappiness in the Parisian ballet world. If the situation wasn't bad enough already, the dancers also felt betrayed by the leaking of their private survey results to the French press without their consent. They had been previously informed that the survey was purely internal and thus they felt freer to share their feelings and opinions than they might have otherwise had they known the eventual outcome would become so public. The Paris Opera Ballet is internationally renowned for their talented dancers and breath-taking performances, but for now, their focus will have to be on the morale within their walls.
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