The Staatsballett Berlin is making negative headlines again: As the “Spiegel” reports in its current issue, Chloé Lopes Gomes, the company’s first black ballerina, has made serious allegations against one of the ensemble’s ballet masters. She should have repeatedly listened to racist comments from the training manager and was asked several times to put on white make-up for “Swan Lake” performances. The incidents are said to have happened under the management of Johannes Öhman and Sasha Waltz, which has now ended. Both had taken the first steps to make the ensemble more diverse.
Chloé Lopes Gomes, who has been involved with the State Ballet since 2018, also complained to Öhman about the discrimination. He suggested a conversation with the ballet master, which she refused – for fear of being harassed even more afterwards. After Öhman’s surprising farewell after just one season, the Frenchwoman felt at the mercy of the ballet master.
Chloé Lopes Gomes did not talk about her experiences of racism for a long time. After her contract was not extended and she has to leave the company at the end of the season, she has now broken her silence. Interim director Christiane Theobald told the “Süddeutsche Zeitung” that she found the incidents “shocking” and that she immediately informed the Senate Department for Culture and started an awareness-raising and prevention campaign for the company.
Obviously, a processing is urgently needed. Other dancers from the State Ballet apparently experienced discriminatory situations and were confronted with racist, homophobic or misogynous statements. They report an “atmosphere of fear” in the ensemble. However, the allegations of having acted too hesitantly are not only to be made by Öhman. The current management is also responsible. Christiane Theobald was already part of the artistic director under Waltz / Öhmann.
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