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Le Figaro published an article on 15 April 2018 containing the results of the a survey carried out among the POB company.  The article is behind a pay-wall, but it has been summarised in an on-line ballet press round-up in France:

 

https://www.dansesaveclaplume.com/hors-scene/584214-revue-de-presse-dansee-s17-18-ep24/

 

It appears that almost 77% of dancers who participated considered they had either been the victims of or had witnessed  episodes of moral harassment (I think this is probably "bullying") and 26% considered that they had been the victims of sexual harassment. 87% considered that the complaints process at the POB was inadequate.

 

The article apparently makes uncomfortable reading for Aurelie Dupont, the director of the company, whose choice of repertoire has already been heavily criticised for its emphasis on modern dance at the expense of the company's classical heritage. Indeed, there is an on-line petition against the 2018-19 repertoire.

 

Interestingly, on the same day the Figaro also published an article about the Paris Opera Ballet School, in which complaints were made by students about the focus on  teaching only classical technique which leaves dancers ill-equipt - they believe - to then make the transition to the company's modern repertoire, and also renders them unable to perform for 3 months or more  as they try to acquire the necessary skills to dance the company's modern works.   The publication of this article has coincided with  Elisabeth Platel, the director of the School, being on medical leave.  

 

It would be interesting to have the opportunity to read both articles in full, but it seems - at first blush - that these may be the precursors of a larger battle to come.

 

 

 

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I have read that the dancers were unhappy that the media were presented with the results of the survey before the dancers, and without their permission.

 

Re the school, I attended a performance last week at the Opera Garnier which consisted of three works. Although the first ballet was classical (Ivan Clustine's Suite de Danses, 1913, very influenced by Les Sylphides, but in turn being a perceptible influence on Lifar's Suite en blanc), the second and third were more contemporary, Kylian (Un ballo) and Neumeier (Spring and Fall).

 

It is true that the repertory for next season is very disappointing.The programme for the school next year ( Two Pigeons, the version of Merante and Aveline, Bournonville's Konservatoriet and a contemporary piece to Rameau) is once again more interesting than most of the company's rep, apart from the Robbins triple.

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2 hours ago, BeauxArts said:

It appears that almost 77% of dancers who participated considered they had either been the victims of or had witnessed  episodes of moral harassment (I think this is probably "bullying")

 

Cross-referencing the French term on Wikipedia ( often a useful indication :) ) leads to an article on "mobbing", but I suspect that's wrong (a friend working in Germany some years ago was subjected to racist "Mobbing", which is when I came across the term, so I guess it's a false friend) - the page links to a main article on workplace bullying, which I suspect is closer to the truth, although I don't claim to be any sort of expert in the area.  It does occur to me that a single episode of someone being bullied in class or a company rehearsal might be just as sufficient to account for that very high percentage as 77 individual instances of bullying, which is why statistics need to be treated with a degree of caution, but regardless, it doesn't look good.

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Posted (edited)

Assuming the reference is to 'harcèlement moral', this is 'psychological harassment' (degradation of working environment, abuse, career obstruction etc) and is actually defined as a crime under French law carrying a large fine or even to 2 years prison. 

Edited by Quintus
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22 hours ago, SheilaC said:

I have read that the dancers were unhappy that the media were presented with the results of the survey before the dancers, and without their permission.

 

If this refers to the petition, I'd take it with a large pinch of salt: it sounds like an attempt by management to muddy the waters which it would be tricky for a POB dancer to refuse  to sign.

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7 hours ago, Lizbie1 said:

 

If this refers to the petition, I'd take it with a large pinch of salt: it sounds like an attempt by management to muddy the waters which it would be tricky for a POB dancer to refuse  to sign.

 

And I believe that one of the dancers is quoted as saying exactly that.

The British press has got its teeth into the POB story today, I see.

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Some updates on the matter:

 

An interview with Stéphane Lissner, general director of the Opéra, about the survey:

http://www.parismatch.com/Culture/Spectacles/Stephane-Lissner-directeur-de-l-Opera-de-Paris-On-ne-peut-pas-tout-accepter-1513193

 

and an interview with Dupont, her first reaction since the survey leaked (its behind a paywall though)

https://www.lejdd.fr/culture/opera-de-paris-mise-en-cause-la-directrice-du-ballet-aurelie-dupont-repond-3697859

 

Another article paraphrasing her interview, free to read:

http://www.lefigaro.fr/culture/2018/07/02/03004-20180702ARTFIG00124-aurelie-dupont-souhaite-sortir-de-la-tourmente-le-ballet-de-l-opera-de-paris.php

 

 

Notice how Lissner is trying to downplay the results of the survey, saying the person who leaked it might have tampered with the original file... im shocked he would go to this length, especially considering since the dancers were asked about pretty serious (not to mention criminal) issues like sexual harassment. He also mentions a similar crisis back in 2012 when a majority of the company send a letter to the minister of  culture asking for the immediate departure of Lefèvre. I guess it didn't work because she stayed on for two more years. I don't think Dupont will leave either. She seems to be pretty resolute in her interview, saying she wants to engage in conversation with her dancers which is good. She also mentioned something about a male employee who was fired, I couldn't figure out if it was because of the survey or she's just talking about an incident in the past.

 

I have to add that everything in this survey complies with what ive heared was happening in the company through a friend of mine, way before this document was leaked. I never really wanted to talk about it on forums and the like because after all, I heard everything via-via and nothing was official, but after seeing the results of this survey I can freely talk about it. Dupont has definitely not made a good impression on her dancers (especially the corps) since her appointment, most of them saying they feel like theyre invisible/not being appreciated etc and it really shows in the survey, with a stunning 90% not being happy with the way the company is being managed.  I REALLY hope she'll take the results of this survey to heart because these are not the kind of numbers that you would want to brush aside. I don't necessarily think this survey will be the end of Dupont (she doesn't seem like a quitter to me, not to mention after the abrupt departure of Millepied I don't think its smart for yet another AD to leave prematurely) however I don't think shell stay on for long either. My guess is she'll be ad till 2020, when Manuel Legris' contract at Vienna will end and he will probably take over at POB then. Right now he seems to be the most probable successor. Le Riche could be a good candidate too, especially now that he has experience in managing a company. He's been AD with the Swedish royal ballet since 2017.

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