Spinning Out at the National Ballet of Canada (UPDATED)

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.”

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12 comments on “Spinning Out at the National Ballet of Canada (UPDATED)
  1. daveS says:

    Where is the link to the previous “Messy Business at the NBC” [ http://frankmag.ca/2017/12/26474/ ] in this text?

  2. OJM says:

    All this so pretentious twats can say “We were at the ballet last night…”

  3. theodorestreet says:

    I protest. Victorian pantaloons on the ladies, but the gentlemen are dressed like Fabio. Ballet has become a cesspit of reverse sexism.

  4. Patrick60 says:

    Sad that such a disciplined art is being undermined by these superficial personalities.

  5. daveS says:

    The Victorian pantaloons of of the Pittsburgh Theatre School ballet corps.

  6. John MacLachlan Gray says:

    Seems as though arts institutions with the word “National” in them require a periodic near-death experience to pop the bubble of entitlement, drain the swamp, or some other appropriate Trumpian metaphor.

  7. daveS says:

    Evan McKie, Hyperlong!! 56 word sentences!!!
    Obviously does his own work without editors, directors or other interference.
    Of course it is on “Instagram” which encourages outbursts and ill-adviced backlashing.

  8. PDB says:

    Second time I have seen this so I must ask. What does RBofC stand for?

  9. Submitted Comment says:

    UPDATE (From an insider)

    –The round table discussions have started and we all hate them.

    –Karen decided to decline taking part and instead sends Human Resources to represent her (not kidding)

    –No one feels comfortable because the meetings are obviously designed to find out who has been speaking out about the corruption going on

    –No one is saying anything because everyone is scared

    –The situation with dancers leaving is way worse then they thought. More than the ones mentioned are leaving.

    –Because of how bad it looks Karen and Barry have offered dancers including Emma and Francesco a contract where they can divide the time between Canada and the place they really want to be. That way Karen doesn’t have to actually say that they are “leaving”

    –Karen and Barry honestly believe that in time people will forget everything that has happened because the national press is too scared to publish anything because of David Binet, so the plan is to temporarily avoid any major attention being paid to Robert Binet or Hannah Fischer until things cool down and they can resume everything without having actually changed anything.

    –They are having the meetings with dancers to find out the people speaking out, but also because then they can document that they “did” something when goverment agencies and private donors start asking questions (which they have). There is zero intention from either Karen or Barry to admit to anything because they know if they do it opens up enough reason for more investigation and if that happens it is the end for them because they will find major major skeletons.

    –The bottom line is that the ballet company is full of nepotism and bribery because they have no policy to prevent it. None. Zero. Call them on it. Ask them to prove that they do have procedure in place to prevent bribery and nepotism. Make it public. THEY CAN’T. That is why they are refusing to release a statement of any kind or confirm that anything is wrong. They cannot afford for the questions to be asked. Public questioning is by far the thing they are most afraid of. If the public asks questions Karen and Barry would have to either lie on record or publicly admit that these things happened. And if everyone in Canada probably the world was aware of things in the ballet company they would for sure recognize how unethical things are. If the general public knew about the Binet/Fischer/McKie situation they would agree it is completely nuts. That is the truth. It would never happen in any other public org because there are so many rules in place to prevent it.

    —What we do is perform. That is what we love. That is what we are being paid to do. And all we ask is for fairness. Have a clear policy to prevent nepotism and bribery. Make it public. That’s it. A lot of us don’t come from rich backgrounds or feel comfortable sleeping with someone for opportunities. Why should we?? Karen and Barry make us feel like we did something wrong, like we should not be standing up for the right thing and honestly, it’s making us not trust each other and it sucks.

    –If Robert Binet was so amazing why isn’t the rest of the world flipping out over his work and asking for more? If Fischer is such a star why is she here when she could do it on her own? If the ballet company actually does have ”world class” structure and excellence why is this dragging on so long? Why is Julia Drake and staff refusing to release a public statement on any of this but then go to such lengths as to postpone Binet productions and remove Binet Senior from the website?



  10. Alan Smithee says:

    Cloudy with a Dance of Meatballs

  11. Alan Smithee says:

    “From an INSIDER!” Does that come with a side of Geraldo and Al Capone’s vault?

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