The MeToo Movement was founded to help victims and survivors of sexual harassment and abuse. Since last year, this community has moved into the mainstream, helping to transform the way people recognize, understand, and prevent this kind of abuse. Not all industries have addressed this issue, especially those with male-dominated management. MeToo’s website has dozens of resources for sexual harassment and abuse victims, but many victims are too frightened to speak up.
The world of dance has a unique culture that can perpetuate abuse. Its teaching methods and practices can force students into submissiveness. They are taught at young ages that they must follow demanding rules laid out by their teachers, no matter what. The balance of power is skewed towards the teacher, who may become an all-encompassing, frightening authority figure. This can lay the groundwork for mistreatment as many students do not learn to stand up for themselves and end up verbally or physically abused.
The Need to Speak Out
At the end of 2017, a leading ballet company director was accused of sexual harassment anonymously. No formal charges were made but the leader stepped down, as did another well-known ballet star in a separate case. Similar claims have been directed at dance theater’s staff members, photographers, and patrons who attended an interactive dance show.
Dancers who freelance can be vulnerable, since they do not have the support of a large company. A contract for a small production may not include a sexual harassment policy. Conversely, dance artists working for prominent organizations can be subject to constant, high-stress competition that can encourage abuse. They put up with it because they are afraid of having their reputations damaged, losing out on prime jobs, or being fired.
Empowering Dancers: A Culture Shift
With MeToo in full swing, many believe that it is time for the dance industry to join the movement. Dancers need to be empowered enough to stop abuse. Some feel that the entire culture needs to be rethought. One option is to rewrite dancer contracts. One contemporary dancer and choreographer has her dancers sign agreements that focus on safety and encourage them to speak up if they feel uncomfortable. Another choreographer’s performers check with him daily to get feedback, as he believes that, as dancers, having a practice of verbal consent is essential.
Shaking up the management may be worth considering. Instead of one ballet master-in-chief, responsibilities could be shared amongst administrators that are held accountable to one another. Hiring more women to manage dance companies may be beneficial, since male-dominated organizations have been shown to have higher rates of sexual abuse and harassment. Policies need to be clear and supplemented by continuing education and training. Once dancers understand their rights and feel support from their leaders, they will be more confident about preventing abuse.
Delaware County Sexual Harassment Lawyers at Sidney L. Gold & Associates, P.C. Advocate for Those Sexually Harassed in the Workplace
If you have experienced sexual harassment in the workplace, you are not alone. Delaware County sexual harassment lawyers at Sidney L. Gold & Associates, P.C. represent sexual abuse victims, including professional dancers, and will fight to obtain the compensation and justice you deserve. Fill out our online form today or call us at 215-569-1999 for a free consultation. We are in Philadelphia and we serve clients from the surrounding areas, including Bucks County, Chester County, Delaware County, and Montgomery County.