whistle while you work

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Microaggressions, stereotypes, double-standards, discrimination, unwanted come-ons, manipulation, isolation, bad jokes, and pithy comments: ABUSES OF POWER and SEXISM in the ARTS and in DANCE come in all shapes and sizes.

Using art as a backdrop is not an excuse.  Change the names, be anonymous, but don't let little perpetrations go unnoticed, no matter how big or small.

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Not everyone has dealt with a major incident of harassment in the ballet world but I’m willing to bet that everyone has experienced little moments....

Here’s a sampling that have happened to me or my fellow dancers:

A teacher that would constantly tell me to hold in my stomach. My core was engaged in fact, and the teacher realized this when he poked me in the abdomen, however this didn’t stop him from repeatedly yelling “Stomach!” at me throughout class, sometimes multiple times, sometimes along with my name. This continued throughout the whole time he was my teacher.

A friend was told by the artistic director to get a breast reduction if she ever wanted to dance professionally. She was 14 at the time.

The teacher who makes faces at her students because she is so horrified at their lack of technique, then she refuses to correct then or even look at the dancers because they aren’t up to her standard.

A choreographer who created a mature piece for a group of very young girls, and yelled at them when they weren’t “being sexy enough”. Some of the dancers were eleven years old.

A program director who paid careful attention to a young male dancer’s recovery from injury, asking him to take time off until it was healed, and then refusing to discuss a female dancer’s similar injury, saying “it could wait until evaluations”. Evaluations were 5 months away. 

Favoritism of an artistic director towards his son who was in the school. The son would get every principal role and always on opening night when there were certainly other boys who were good enough. The director would only watch those performances and give notes to that cast.

A male teacher commenting about his students breast size in costumes with tight bodices.

A female teacher telling her students all they needed to eat for lunch was “three almonds”.

Complaining to the artistic director that a teacher was repeatedly making students cry in class, and being told “that’s just the way it is”.

A class was told to do push-ups. Then the teacher told the girls to stop, only the body needed to do push-ups, because the girls shouldn’t “look like body builders”. 

An artistic director who told me in a meeting that I would never make it, then told me I should try harder.