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'Mistress obliged me to appear whiter' - French dancer campaigns against racism in Berlin State Ballet06:13

'Mistress obliged me to appear whiter' - French dancer campaigns against racism in Berlin State Ballet

Germany, Berlin
December 2, 2020 at 21:06 GMT +00:00 · Published

French dancer Chloe Lopes Gomes has been campaigning for justice over alleged racial harassment in Berlin’s State Ballet company (Staatsballet Berlin), as she explained in an interview to Ruptly in the German capital on Wednesday.

The 29-year-old Lopes Gomes, who had trained in Marseille and at the Bolshoi Ballett Academy, performed for Ballet de l'Opéra de Nice and Béjart Ballet Lausanne before joining Staatsballett Berlin as a corps de ballet member in 2018.

Lopes Gomes went public about her case in November exposing racial profiling and discrimination by her ballet mistress.

“I was unfortunately under the supervision of a ballet mistress who said several times that Staatsballett Berlin should not hire me because I'm black and that black ballerina in a corps de ballet is something that is not aesthetic. During these two years she made racist comments and jokes and recently this ballet mistress obliged me with colouring my skin in white for the Swan Lake to appear whiter," said the ballerina.

Lopes Gomes decided to voice her concerns to the media after she found out that her contract with Staatsballett Berlin was set to be terminated in July.

“My colleagues did not say 'Oh my God, you can not speak to the crew like that, it's racist' because they are very scared. Because we have only one-year contracts and ballet mistresses are protected by life contracts. The power that the institutions give to them is undeniable. We are very vulnerable to them. We don't have a syndicate that can protect us. We don't have a safe place where we could report on this illegal behaviour. It's very hard for us," added Lopes Gomes.

The dancer is now concerned that on top of losing the job in Staatsballett it may now be very difficult for her to be employed by other companies in Europe.

“Ballet directors might be scared to hire me, as it can be like 'oh, this girl is not scared to fight for her rights." So it can be dangerous for them. I'm scared that I might not find a job in the future," she said.

Staatsballett’s acting director Dr Christiane Theobald said in a statement to Ruptly that she was sorry to find out about the allegations adding that an internal awareness campaign was launched in October to ensure any discriminatory behaviour in the company is spotted and dealt with.

'Mistress obliged me to appear whiter' - French dancer campaigns against racism in Berlin State Ballet06:13
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French dancer Chloe Lopes Gomes has been campaigning for justice over alleged racial harassment in Berlin’s State Ballet company (Staatsballet Berlin), as she explained in an interview to Ruptly in the German capital on Wednesday.

The 29-year-old Lopes Gomes, who had trained in Marseille and at the Bolshoi Ballett Academy, performed for Ballet de l'Opéra de Nice and Béjart Ballet Lausanne before joining Staatsballett Berlin as a corps de ballet member in 2018.

Lopes Gomes went public about her case in November exposing racial profiling and discrimination by her ballet mistress.

“I was unfortunately under the supervision of a ballet mistress who said several times that Staatsballett Berlin should not hire me because I'm black and that black ballerina in a corps de ballet is something that is not aesthetic. During these two years she made racist comments and jokes and recently this ballet mistress obliged me with colouring my skin in white for the Swan Lake to appear whiter," said the ballerina.

Lopes Gomes decided to voice her concerns to the media after she found out that her contract with Staatsballett Berlin was set to be terminated in July.

“My colleagues did not say 'Oh my God, you can not speak to the crew like that, it's racist' because they are very scared. Because we have only one-year contracts and ballet mistresses are protected by life contracts. The power that the institutions give to them is undeniable. We are very vulnerable to them. We don't have a syndicate that can protect us. We don't have a safe place where we could report on this illegal behaviour. It's very hard for us," added Lopes Gomes.

The dancer is now concerned that on top of losing the job in Staatsballett it may now be very difficult for her to be employed by other companies in Europe.

“Ballet directors might be scared to hire me, as it can be like 'oh, this girl is not scared to fight for her rights." So it can be dangerous for them. I'm scared that I might not find a job in the future," she said.

Staatsballett’s acting director Dr Christiane Theobald said in a statement to Ruptly that she was sorry to find out about the allegations adding that an internal awareness campaign was launched in October to ensure any discriminatory behaviour in the company is spotted and dealt with.

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