Ballet dancer

A-list ballet dancer used ‘power and prestige’ to sexually assault teens at academy, court hears

Former English National Ballet dancer Yat-Sen Chang, 49 (pictured in court) is charged with multiple counts of sexual assault

A former English National Ballet principal dancer used his ‘power and prestige’ to grope young dance students, a court has heard.

Yat-Sen Chang, 49, was charged with 12 counts of sexual assault and two counts of assault by penetration on a woman aged 16 or older.

The alleged breaches allegedly took place at the English National Ballet and Young Dancers Academy in London between 2009 and 2016.

Chang, who lives in the German port city of Kiel, has denied all charges.

Opening Chang’s trial at Isleworth Crown Court, prosecutor Joel Smith said the “internationally acclaimed” ballet dancer was “both famous and revered” by young dancers and ballet students.

Mr Smith said Chang had used his “power and prestige to sexually abuse young women”.

“Unfortunately, the prosecution said, he also has a darker side. He used his position to commit sexual offenses against young students in his care.

“Children who had been entrusted to him to educate them. For his part, he trusted his notoriety and his respectability would shield him from complaints.

The alleged offenses concern four complainants aged 16 to 18 at the time of the events.

They accused Chang of touching them inappropriately during school massages.

Mr Smith said the first complainant remembered Chang breathing heavily while massaging her leg after complaining of a tight muscle, which she described as “scary breathing”.

He said the complainant “thought it was a little weird” and that it “didn’t feel like a sports massage”, claiming he had massaged her “in an intimate area”.

She allegedly told him “enough is enough” and she alleged that Chang “seemed pleased with himself”.

The prosecutor added: “As you will see, it is sort of a pattern with this defendant.”

Chang is pictured (centre) performing The Snow Queen at the English National Ballet in London in 2010. He joined in 1993 after moving to the UK from Cuba, where he was born.

Chang is pictured (centre) performing The Snow Queen at the English National Ballet in London in 2010. He joined in 1993 after moving to the UK from Cuba, where he was born.

Mr Smith added that after the incident, Chang continued to place the alleged victim “in embarrassing and sexual situations”, which he said was “part of the grooming behavior” he displayed.

Jurors heard that the defendant allegedly undressed in front of the complainant after leading her into the men’s locker room.

The prosecutor said on another occasion that Chang allegedly tried to get in a shower with her in the girls’ locker room.

Mr Smith said Chang’s behavior had become “more forceful and more outspoken”, describing an alleged incident in which the defendant allegedly sexually assaulted the complainant in her apartment after he tackled her to the ground.

“There could be no doubt in the defendant’s mind that his attentions were unwanted.

“In short, it was as clear as the day [the victim] did not consent to any sexual touching.

A second complainant described how she “kind of froze” while Chang was massaging her, Mr Smith said, while another complainant described the alleged breach as “frightening me a lot”.

The fourth complainant accused Chang of sexually assaulting her in the bathroom, causing her pain, Mr Smith said.

Yat-Sen Chang

Yat-Sen Chang

Isleworth Crown Court heard Chang (pictured at a previous hearing) use his ‘power and prestige to sexually abuse young women’ during his tenure at English National Ballet

The court heard that Chang would “laugh” or “laugh” as he allegedly assaulted the students.

Mr Smith told jurors Chang ‘used his position’ to commit sexual offenses against young students in his care, adding: ‘Children, who he was entrusted to teach’.

“For his part, he hoped that his fame and position would shield him from complaints or the consequences of his actions.

“The story of this case is unfortunately often heard – it is a man with power and prestige who uses it to abuse young women.”

One of the alleged victims told her school about what happened in April 2016 and police were called, the court heard.

Smith explained that Chang was questioned about the allegations regarding his first two alleged victims in April 2016.

Chang answered questions about his work but did not comment on the allegations, it was said.

He told police he touched one of the girls while “correcting his posture”, but did not comment when asked if he went any further than that.

Chang joined English Nation Ballet in 1993 after leaving Cuba for the UK, where he was born. He left the position of principal dancer in 2011.

During his career he danced lead roles in productions such as The Nutcracker, Sleeping Beauty, San Lake and Romeo and Juliet.

The trial, which is expected to last three weeks, is continuing.