More uproar at the National Ballet of Canada.
Amid revelations in the satirical press that the company is riven with nepotism and hanky spanky, two star dancers have quit, a principal prancer has lawyered up and corporate sponsors are eyeing the exits.
The star dancers, Francesco Gabriele Frola and Emma Hawes, are bailing out in favour of the English National Ballet—far away from the turmoil that has engulfed the NBofC.
Evan McKie, lead dancer for the Toronto-based NBofC, has rejoined the company after a mysterious three-month absence that he refuses to talk about for “legal reasons.” [Read McKie update below.]
This left some punters speculating that McKie had threatened to sue the company for wrongful dismissal—and spill the beans in the process. But after discussions last month with artistic director Karen Kain, he returned to work, lawyers and a psychologist in tow.
Meanwhile, Executive Director Barry Hughson ordered up a mandatory company meeting, where he denied there was nepotism at the NBofC. Who you gonna believe, me or your own lying eyes?
Yoo, hoo, Barry! Robert Binet, son of the ballet’s most generous patron, David Binet, was appointed Choreographic Associate for the NBoC. Hannah Fischer, daughter of ballet master/mistress Lindsay Fischer and Mandy-Jayne Richardson, was promoted to first soloist last year.
“The optics are terrible,” one insider told Frank. In the chase for donors dollars, they’ve opened themselves up to all sorts of charges of abuse, he said. “The company ballet must be seen to be based on quality and there should be a zero tolerance policy for nepotism.”
Hughson claimed an “internal” investigation, headed by Cornell Wright, chair of the company board and longtime chum of Binet the Elder, concluded that management had done nothing wrong (shurely shome shurprise?!–ed.)
Hughson also announced that he and Kain would hold discussions with the dancers, where, among other things, they would find out who had been leaking to the gutter press.
Kain has postponed the full length ballet that Binet fils had been commissioned to present next season, in hopes the backbiting will have died down by then.
Sources also claim that reps from the TD Bank, one of the company’s leading sponsors, met with management to express their concerns.
Apparently the discussion went badly. Hughson was visibly nervous, defensive and maintained that he and Kain have done nothing wrong. When TD asked why the company has no policies to prevent nepotism or sexual harassment, he reportedly said, “Because no one has that!” Sadly, the TD reps had to explain he was wrong and even printed out for Hughson their internal policy for such issues as an example.
The TD is said to be monitoring the situation.
Separately, several individual donors have pulled their funding in letters written to Hughson and Kain. The response has been the same to each: “We are sorry to hear this – these allegations are untrue – and you are the first person to bring this up.”
It would seem that Hughson/Kain haven’t clued into the fact that each of these donors has kept these written responses and are in fact in contact with each other.
Stay tuned for more nose stretchers.
In an Instagram post April 13, McKie wrote:
“In an era of sometimes reckless anonymous third party whistleblowing about the perceived nuances of other folks’ private friendships, misinformed second-hand gossip can lead to some difficult circumstances with regards to collegial trust, attacked integrity, hyper-long legal investigative process and immense emotional disturbance when we really just yearn to be 100% focussed on our goal of creating Art. I understand there are many sides to such conversations and that we need to be free of harassment in our workplaces…I’m not sure, however, that small third party cliques who haven’t brought their concerns to those who may have clearer-cut facts should be anonymously whistleblowing directly to the press, or if that’s the way to establish positive working culture. (?)
“It is also harassment and can malign a person’s livelihood when whistleblowing becomes about bad intentions and personal agenda rather than good intentions to help someone who may actually be trapped. It undermines those who may really need help in an era of #MeToo solidarity.”