Ballet academy

A prestigious ballet academy “encouraged children to smoke to stay thin” | The Independent

According to an investigation, children at the prestigious ballet academy of the Vienna State Opera were encouraged to smoke to control their weight.

The scandal first erupted in April when a media report accused the school of inflicting severe physical and mental abuse on its students.

At the time, the Sway The newspaper published a detailed investigation detailing ’19th century’ methods, alleging students were beaten, scratched, pulled by the hair and humiliated over their physique, with some developing eating disorders.

On Tuesday, a government-backed special commission validated the report, confirming that students at the academy had received insufficient medical care, and also found a general “disregard” for child protection.

The commission, made up of three members, held a total of 16 hearings and interviews with 24 people.

Susanne Reindl-Krauskopf, head of the commission, said students were advised to start smoking to stay slim and were also concerned about the size of their clothes.

“It is clear that children and adolescents are not sufficiently protected against discrimination, neglect and adverse medical effects,” the report said, adding that student training loads were not appropriately controlled, which put their well-being at risk.

In response to the commission’s findings, the Vienna State Opera said it had already reduced the number of student performances, adding that it needed to study the report in detail before it could give a fuller response. .

The academy added that since the allegations surfaced earlier this year, it has set up a course to teach students about nutrition and body image and has hired psychologists to support them.

However, the commission rejected these measures as insufficient.

The academy, established in 1771, is one of the most prestigious ballet schools in Europe, with many of its alumni dancing for companies such as the Royal Ballet in London and the American Ballet Theater in New York.

The Independent has contacted the Vienna State Opera for comment.