TAOS Statement on Recent Reports of Abuse in Dance Community

The Army of Survivors has issued the following statement on the recent reports of abuse coming out of the dance community.

The floodgates have opened in the wake of the October 2021 Toronto Star article exposing the deep-seeded history of abuse within the dance community, with Break the Floor Productions at the center of the story. Since then, an army has been steadily growing as dancers are coming forward to share their experiences of abuse and harassment by well-respected choreographers and teachers in the convention circuit. 

This story is unfortunately nothing new, as the dance community has been historically known to foster a culture of abuse, leading to the victimization of its dancers. For example, during the 19th century, classical ballet was known for the maltreatment and sexual exploitation of its ballerinas. 

As an organization focused on ending sexual violence, with unique ties to the athletic community, The Army of Survivors applauds and stands with the recent surge of survivors coming forward to speak their truth. 

These young athletes may face a lifelong journey of healing from the unnecessary trauma caused by people who should have protected them. It is unacceptable that the environments intended for athletic training do not provide safe and secure conditions for the developing minds and bodies of these young athletes. Not only do we expect the individuals responsible to be held accountable, but the organizations and institutions that allowed this systemic abuse to continue. 

Right now the dance industry has an opportunity to be a leader and take actionable steps towards institutional change. However, a safer and healthier culture will only be made possible through the acknowledgement of survivor voices and wrongdoing. Any effort from the Break the Floor dance company, or any other dance organization involved, to make policy and procedural changes will ultimately be rendered meaningless otherwise. Change can only occur when we understand the impact and extent of our mistakes.

We urge leadership, instructors, and members within the dance community to listen to those with lived experiences. We urge decision makers to work with experts and survivors to make and create change so that we can trust athletic training environments are safe and free from violence. 

“I continue to be astonished that even after the barrage of abuse allegations throughout the athletic community in the last five years alone, we are not seeing greater oversight and procedures put in place to prevent abuse,” said Grace French, President and Founder of The Army of Survivors and current dance coach. “Athletic institutions are not doing enough to protect their athletes and instead are putting children at risk of severe traumatization and harm. The Army of Survivors is pushing for accountability and change in order to protect young dancers and athletes everywhere. We urge the dance community to step up and take action.” 

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Sport has the potential to be a catalyst for human development, unity, and freedom, but too often it instead brings harm to its athletes, fans, and communities. We exist to uncover and rectify the many abuses that exist both in and around sport. We aim to transform sports into an authentic force for good.