Top Swiss ballet to reform after harassment claims

Artistic Director of the Ballet Bejart Lausanne, Gil Roman, pictured with his dancers on stage.
Artistic Director of the Ballet Bejart Lausanne, Gil Roman (4L) is to remain in his post despite the claims. He is pictured here performing with his dancers in 2007 during a rehearsal of Maurice Bejart's final creation: "Around the World in 80 Minutes". AFP PHOTO / AFP FABRICE COFFRINI
Switzerland's prestigious Bejart Ballet Lausanne announced a string of reforms on Friday after it was plunged into turmoil by harassment allegations, though artistic director Gil Roman remains in his post.

“Due to repeated behaviour of sexual harassment, the production manager was dismissed with just cause with immediate effect,” according to a statement from the Maurice Bejart Foundation, which oversees the dance company founded in 1987.

The foundation announced a series of new measures guided by the findings of an independent audit, which reported “serious behavioural problems”.

Roman, who took over as artistic director in 2007 following the death of Bejart, and “whose brilliant creative qualities are unanimously recognised in the audit, will continue his mission as choreographer and ballet director with specific support and supervision”, the foundation said.

The backing came despite “a series of dysfunctions in terms of human resources and communication”. The report noted “unacceptable and vulgar attitudes; sometimes impulsive, angry or even insulting in terms of communication or relationships with others”.

But the board added that “the audit report in no way attests to rumours of sexual harassment, homophobia, consumption or trafficking of cocaine or even nepotism on the part of the artistic director”.

Roman will therefore be supervised and will work on the development of the troupe and the affiliated Rudra Bejart ballet school, where long-time director Michel Gascard and his wife, stage manager Valerie Lacaze, were fired over “serious shortcomings”.

The new system includes a director responsible for all activities including the future replacement school. It also includes a human resources manager and a personnel committee.

The foundation also promised a better-structured schedule, zero tolerance on drugs consumption and inappropriate behaviour, as well as a salary policy review.

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