Sunday, March 7, 2021

Black Ballerina Chloé Lopes Gomes: ‘Speaking Out Against an Esteemed Company Can Ruin a Career’ (Video)

Chloe Lopes Gomes
French ballet dancer Chloe Lopes Gomes poses for a picture outside the Deutsche Oper in Berlin, in Jan 2021. Odd Andersen / AFP – Getty Images

*Ballerina Chloé Lopes Gomes, the first Black ballerina to join Berlin’s principal ballet company, the Staatsballett, has penned an update after going public in 2018 with racism allegations against her company.

Last October, the company opted not to renew her contract for the summer. Lopes Gomes believed she was let go “because of the complaints I have made about the racist comments and unfair treatment that I have endured from my ballet mistress, though the company has said the decision was made for ‘artistic reasons.'”

Lopes Gomes, 29, said she attempted to handle the matter internally, but when that produced zero results, she went public with her story to Der Spiegel, The Guardian and the New York Times.

The update? Nothing has changed.

“The ballet world needs to change, and we have the chance to do so now, while the art form has been thrown into crisis during the coronavirus pandemic,” Lopes Gomes said in an essay written for CNN.com. “In order for the performing arts to survive, they have to reach new audiences. In ballet, which is still primarily white and elitist, we have to make it more accessible, and we can do that by making it a more inclusive and equitable art form.

“We should attract talented and diverse young dancers in ballet schools and begin to remake ballet companies from the ground up to reflect the multicultural world we live in. We should put an end to the dangerous belief that dancers must always remain silent, which is drilled into us at a young age. And we should give dancers proper avenues of recourse when their teachers or directors abuse their power.”

Below is Lopes Gomes’ performance in support of Black Lives Matter for Vogue Paris, posted in June 2020, four months before she she was let go by the Staatsballett.

Here’s a 30-minute Barre au Sol routine with Lopes Gomez. “Barre au Sol is a collection of exercises inspired by barre – the tool dancers use to wake up and warm up before dancing” the French ballerina explained. Sculpt, tone and strengthen with grace and poise and follow step by step with Chloe. All you need is a mat.”

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