A November 9th article posted by Dance Magazine reports on the rehabilitation of male dancers and choreographers who have been accused of harassing women (and men).
The publication focused on Jan Fabre, a Belgian multidisciplinary artist. Dance reports that he has been named as Grand Officer in the Order of the Crown, a great honor in Belgium, similar to the Légion d’Honneur in France or appointment as a member or officer of the Order of the British Empire. His troupe, Troubleyn, has recently presented Mount Olympus: To glorify the cult of tragedy (a 24 hour performance). The magazine describes this abhorrent display as including dancers napping onstage due to its absurd length and repeating steps “endlessly at the coaxing of the audience.” To finish the disturbing “art” off is “full frontal nudity, simulated blood and realistically enacted orgies and violence.”
DDP commends Dance Magazine for its straight-forward, no excuse, coverage of this artist and his recent work. DDP firmly believes that the ballet, like other fields, requires more fearless voices that are unafraid to take on entrenched interests like those of Jan Fabre and supporters. Twenty of Fabre’s former and current dancers revealed sexual harassment and coercion were common at the hands of their director, and despite his ban from attending the performance, Fabre’s insensitive work is being presented in conjunction with investigation into his real-life behaviors of the same nature.
New York Times has commented on this production, most recently in a November 9th article. Reporter Alex Marshall describes Belgian arts activists, from the group Engagement, as having “demanded New York University do more to address allegations of sexual harassment against Mr. Fabre as his company prepares to perform at N.Y.U. on Saturday.”
According to the article, European performance venues have cancelled the performance, but N.Y.U.’s Skirball Center for Performing Arts has decided to continue with the scheduled performances, due to the crew members and performers involved. Multiple reviews online, including one posted on an NYU student newspaper (link here), have detailed the explicit and obscene scenes from the 24-hour long production. In Jerusalem, the work was called “pretentious” (link here). “Mount Olympus” performances in Greece and Madrid have gone on as planned.
Sadly, the dismissal of those victimized is not an isolated incident. We've seen this in the case of the New York City Ballet, when management rightly terminated three male dancers for trading intimate photos of female colleagues and partners, without their consent or knowledge, the dancers’ union immediately leaped to the defense of the abusers, not the women themselves.
Read the Dance Magazine report here.
Read the New York Times article here.