Vienna State Opera Ballet Academy launches investigation after photo of young student with bleeding feet was published and students made allegations of physical and sexual abuse
- The Vienna State Opera has been rocked by allegations of abuse during its ballet
- Former students have claimed they suffered abuse during their training
- A former student posted photos of cuts to her feet after a session
- Local media claimed one teacher had been fired and a second suspended
The director of the Vienna State Opera on Wednesday called for allegations of abuse at his renowned youth ballet academy to be fully clarified, expressing his shock at the “unacceptable” events.
Austrian magazine Falter reported a day earlier, based on interviews with former students and staff, that students at the academy had been abused and humiliated by a teacher and that some of them had then developed eating disorders. There was also an allegation of sexual abuse.
Austrian news agency APA said one teacher has since been fired and a second is currently not allowed to teach.
A dancer has posted a photo of her feet which suffered damage during training
Vienna State Opera director Dominique Meyer has expressed shock at allegations of abuse that have surfaced at the famed opera and ballet company
“Unacceptable things happened,” opera director Dominique Meyer told reporters in Vienna. “We want everything to be completely cleared up.”
In a podcast to accompany the report, Falter interviewed an unidentified girl who described how a teacher beat, scratched and pulled students by the hair. The girl said she herself was kicked so hard on her ankles while standing on her tiptoes that she was unable to take part in further training for two months.
She said the abuse happened when she was 14 and by the end of the school year, all of the students had been physically injured and traumatized. It is not known how long ago the incidents took place.
“We reacted too late, waited too long,” Simona Noja, the academy’s acting director, told reporters. As of Easter, the academy will offer the services of a psychologist to the students.
An unidentified girl has told Austrian media that a teacher in Vienna was ‘beating, scratching and pulling students by the hair’ as she was kicked so badly in the ankles she couldn’t playing for two months (file photo)
The APA news agency quoted prosecutors in Vienna as saying they were investigating the abuse allegations.
Vienna youth prosecutor Ercan Nik Nafs told APA he was aware of some of the charges in the Falter report, but others were new to him. He declined to give details, citing the ongoing investigation. Prosecutors began investigating the case in December after receiving anonymous charges.
Some 110 students attend the ballet academy, founded in the 18th century by Empress Marie-Thérèse. They perform every year at the famous Vienna Opera Ball.