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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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Abuse at Ballet Victoria, Canada

I have been hesitant to share my experiences at Ballet Victoria. The current director, ______, is a classic narcissistic, abusive and manipulative person. He left me walking on eggshells by constantly gaslighting me (telling me one thing in private, then saying another in front of the company to make me look forgetful or stupid)... He would sometimes call me after working hours to further control my emotions and gaslight. He insulted me on a regular basis ("Tuna-belly", "Cheese on the back of your legs", "Obtuse mind", "Blind"). He would often blow up with anger and yell frequently in rehearsals. He would walk into dressing rooms while the women were changing and naked, our youngest company member being 18 years old at the time and only an aspirant/apprentice. He would purposely shove, push, or drop me and other girls if we had to do any pas de deux with him. He would also say horrible things about our bodies, say phrases like "Nothing is sexier than a hollow stomach," and "Eating lunch makes your body and muscles cold, so it's better not to eat at all," and encouraged extreme weight loss/vegetarianism (if you weren't a vegetarian, he would constantly criticize your food choices... to avoid this I ate lunch outside everyday). He hated when anyone was happy, for example on a company member's birthday, he noticed her celebratory mood and purposely put her down until she broke down crying, and continued to text her after rehearsals to criticize her.

He began a sexual and romantic relationship with another aspirant/apprentice in the company (in doing so, cheating on his partner and company dancer of 10 years) which created a horrible working environment for everyone. When their affair became apparent he called us into his office one by one under the guise of a performance review, but it was really damage control to try and calm everyone's emotions about the situation and manipulate us.

The constant yelling, stress, and gaslighting left me unable to face dance at all for six months, and it took me years to finally let go of the negative feelings I had. I have always been afraid that he will come after me if I spoke publicly about what happened, so I made sure to refer to my experience in neutral terms. But I shouldn't have to be afraid to speak honestly about the horrid working conditions of Ballet Victoria. Even now I can't bring myself to submit this with my name... I hope one day, with the increasing amount of dancers speaking up and sharing their stories, that I will gain the courage to reveal myself, unafraid of the consequences.

The most interesting part is this... _____ ____ choreographed one of our pieces to be performed at the end of the season. He set this piece in September 2014, then his allegations of photographing nude, underage girls of the Royal Winnipeg Ballet School came to light in 2015. We were instructed to not speak publicly of the matter because the allegations were "all lies", "Those girls were 18 and made their choice,"... Then ____ was hired to work for the company, and this news broke in late 2017. [the director] justified this to news outlets by saying the allegations have yet to be proven, therefore there's no reason he couldn't work, and that he himself has had photoshoots with [the choreographer] and they went fine. I'm not surprised they stand by each other.

-ANONYMOUS DANCER