News

Class-Action Lawsuit at Royal Winnipeg Ballet Is One of Many Sexual Harassment Cases in Dance Involving Minors

More than 60 dancers are suing Bruce Monk and the Royal Winnipeg Ballet over explicit photos that were taken of them as students. Photo by Matej/Stock Snap.

More than 60 former students from the Royal Winnipeg Ballet have joined a class-action lawsuit against the company and its former teacher and photographer Bruce Monk. Those involved are seeking $75 million in damages, for inappropriate photos that were taken of them as students by Monk. The lawsuit was reported by MacLean's, a Canadian news outlet.

Now adults, the women claim they were coerced by Monk into posing topless, and in some cases instructed to reveal more, during photography sessions. Some images were later found for sale online. More than 60 dancers were affected by this predatory behavior over a period of 31 years, from 1984 to 2015.


According to MacLean's, the abuse followed a systematic pattern: Dancers met with Monk for supposed headshots, which in ballet, often involve baring the shoulders. They were instructed to lower their leotard straps until their breasts or other body parts were exposed. The dancers were also told that the images would remain private. Monk has denied all allegations.

Though Monk was fired by the Royal Winnipeg Ballet in 2015, the current lawsuit came about after an investigation, which wrapped up in 2016, produced no charges against Monk. The wronged dancers decided to take matters into their own hands.

Unfortunately, this is yet another instance of young dancers—minors—being grossly taken advantage of by those in positions of power. The #MeToo movement continues to reverberate throughout the dance world, as stories of sexual harassment and abuse, often involving children, surface. Youth Protection Advocates in Dance, an organization that provides resources for dancers and their families and offers a certification program for educators, keeps an ongoing ticker of the latest cases in the field.

Viral Videos

Master pointe shoe fitter Josephine Lee of the California-based ThePointeShop chats with Ballet West soloist Chelsea Keefer to hear about how she prepares her pointe shoes. Keefer offers lots of darning tips, and shares all of the unusual ways that she uses rosin.

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored by BLOCH
Courtesy BLOCH

Today's ballet dancer needs a lot from a pointe shoe. "What I did 20 years ago is not what these dancers are doing now," says New York City Ballet shoe manager Linnette Roe. "They are expected to go harder, longer days. They are expected to go from sneakers, to pointe shoes, to character shoes, to barefoot and back to pointe shoes all in a day."

The team at BLOCH developed their line of Stretch Pointe shoes to address dancer's most common complaints about the fit and performance of their pointe shoes. "It's a scientific take on the pointe shoe," says Roe. Dancers are taking notice and Stretch Pointe shoes are now worn by stars like American Ballet Theatre principal Isabella Boylston, who stars in BLOCH's latest campaign for the shoes.

We dug into the details of Stretch Pointe's most game-changing features:

Keep reading... Show less
News
Dane Shitagi, Courtesy Chronicle Books

Earlier this year, we shared that photographer Dane Shitagi's Ballerina Project—his gorgeous, ongoing collection of dance photos that have dominated our Instagram feeds for years—would be coming to an end. But all is not lost—starting September 17, you can enjoy over 170 of these photographs in Ballerina Project, a stunning new book showcasing Shitagi's work.

Keep reading... Show less
News
From left: Kathryn Posin Dance Company members Daniel White, Claire Mazza and Momchil Mladenov in Evolution: The Letters of Charles Darwin. Nan Melville, Courtesy Posin.

Charles Darwin and his theory of evolution might not seem like a natural fit for the ballet stage. But that's exactly the topic of one of choreographer Kathryn Posin's three new ballets, scheduled to premiere at New York City's 92nd Street Y September 13-14.

Keep reading... Show less