Chloé Lopes Gomes Reaches Settlement in Bias Case with Staatsballet Berlin

Dance News   Chloé Lopes Gomes Reaches Settlement in Bias Case with Staatsballet Berlin
 
The ballerina will remain in the company for one more season.
Chloé Lopes Gomes
Chloé Lopes Gomes Strempel’s Photography Services/staatsballett-berlin.de

Chloé Lopes Gomes reached a settlement April 21 in her case against employer Staatsballet, which alleged bias played a part in the dance company’s decision last year to not renew her contract. The proceedings resulted in an extension of her contract through the end of the 2021–2022 season and a compensation package of €16,000, according to The New York Times.

“It was a small victory but a huge step for the ballet world,” said Gomes in an Instagram post. “After eight months of fight we finally found a compromise even if it’s sad to have gone through all of this. I realized that even if I feared the consequences, speaking out was the best thing to do. I encourage everyone to break the silence. And again thank you for all your support without you I couldn’t have made it!”

“I regret the discrimination experiences described by Chloé Lopes Gomes, which we take very seriously and deal with in depth,” said Dr. Christiane Theobald, acting director of the Staatsballet. “There is zero tolerance for racism and all forms of discrimination. We have therefore already initiated a structural change with the aim of placing independence, collegiality and artistic freedom at the center of the work of the entire company.” (This statement was translated from German.)

Theobald also noted that since December 2020, all employees can anonymously contact a hotline to report discrimination. The Staatsballett will publish a report later based on findings.

In a interview that same month with The New York Times, Gomes detailed being told she must use white makeup to lighten her skin for a production of Swan Lake. The practice is a longstanding tradition, especially for that particular ballet, but has somewhat fallen out of fashion as dance companies become more diverse. The corps de ballet member also told the outlet the offense was not an isolated event.

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