STATEMENT FROM THE ARTISTIC DIRECTOR ADDRESSING ISSUES OF RACISM AT THE STAATSBALLETT BERLIN

The Staatsballett Berlin currently comprises 90+ dancers from across the globe. As a company, we were under the impression that national diversity alone would make us sensitive enough about issues of racism and discrimination. We were wrong!

Structural racism is a societal issue, and as a state institution this affects us as well. The racist and discriminatory behaviour that was brought to light in our company deeply moves us and shows that the necessary skills and tools to deal with issues of discrimination need to be worked on thoroughly to instigate profound changes.

 

ZERO TOLERANCE
We're currently performing an investigation – supported by independent experts – into any discriminatory behaviour within our company. Any form of discrimination and racism in our company is unacceptable. Immediately after the accusations were brought to our attention, we started talks with a variety of organisations such as Themis, a trust centre for victims of sexual harassment and violence, and Diversity Art Culture, a Berlin-based project management office for diversity development, the anti-discrimination officer of a Berlin-based theatre and the Senate Department for Culture. An ombuds office has been implemented which can be contacted by all Staatsballett employees since December 2020. On top, mandatory workshops and seminars have also begun.

 

RESTRUCTURING OUR COMPANY
Since our former Artistic Directors, Sasha Waltz and Johannes Öhman, left the company abruptly last season, our company has been in a state of transition, looking for a new artistic director to lead the company. Considering the conversations that emerged over the last couple of weeks, we now see this as an opportunity to restructure the company and move forward to create a safe workspace for everyone from corps de ballet dancer to principal dancer to staff member. It is our priority to foster a working climate in which every single employee is encouraged to speak out as soon as transgressions of any kind occur. As a state institution, we cannot be part of the problem; we must lead as an example.

 

REVISING OUR REPERTORY
Another important focal point includes taking a close look at our company's repertory to uncover outdated and discriminatory ways of performing as well as question and re-evaluate our longstanding traditions. We are aware that the ballet profession has marginalised people of colour throughout history. However, it is our artistic duty to be a mirror to our society, and our repertory must be an artistic beacon that reflects it in all its diversity.

 

Artistic Director of the Staatsballett Berlin