Ballet academy

Shaking up at the Vienna Ballet Academy after abuse scandal

VIENNA, AUSTRIA — The famed Vienna State Opera ballet academy announced a staff reshuffle on Friday, days after an official commission reported it was putting children’s welfare at risk.

Academy director Simona Noja-Nebyla has been relieved of her duties, according to a statement from the Austrian Public Theater Organization.

Noja-Nebyla was not sacked but her duties will be taken over by the State Ballet’s commercial director on an interim basis until a new director is appointed in September 2020.

On Tuesday, a commission investigating allegations of abuse detailed a series of failings in the academy’s care of its students, including encouraging them to smoke to stay slim.

The commission also said students were addressed with their first names and clothing sizes and were not protected “from discrimination, neglect and adverse medical effects”.

The scandal originally erupted in April when a report on the academy in the Falter newspaper detailed allegations of severe physical and mental abuse against students, as well as sexual assault.

The paper’s detailed investigation revealed “19th century” methods, alleging young dancers were beaten, scratched until they bled, pulled by their hair and humiliated on their physique, with some developing anorexia.

Established in 1771, the academy has alumni who have danced for some of the most famous companies in the world, including the Royal Ballet in London, the Mariinsky in St. Petersburg and the American Ballet Theater in New York.