Apropos to my post yesterday about Richmond Ballet dancers suing the organization for exerting so much pressure about their weight, there was another story a couple weeks ago that I forgot where the Executive Director and Artistic Director of the Cleveland Ballet were suspended after they chose not to renew the contract of a dancer who was hired to teach outreach classes at the Boys and Girls Club due to her weight. After advocating to retain the dancer, the Outreach Director was told his contract would not be renewed either.
The events that led up to learning that news from Becker started at a School of Cleveland Ballet staff meeting on Aug. 1, where Guadalupe saw a photo of Harris teaching the tendu movement that was included in Becker’s outreach newsletter.
“[Gladisa] told me that she could not release the newsletter I had been working on, that the mockup was no good. She simply said, ‘the tendu picture,’ and I knew what she was gunning for at that point,” Becker said. “I even asked the Artistic Director, ‘It seems like you’re insinuating that someone’s size or body weight would somehow be able to disqualify them,’ and before I could even finish my sentence, she’s just nodding. I was told that this fine teacher did not have the physical aesthetic required to teach tendu and pliés to the Boys and Girls Club children.”
Two days later, Becker wrote down what happened at the meeting and hand-delivered his account in a letter to Lilia Shtarkman in the Cleveland Ballet’s human resources department, but he never received a reply. He also tried but failed to meet with their HR consultant, Lana Krasnyansky Sokolinsky — who is Michael Krasnyansky’s daughter and Guadalupe’s step-daughter — before Becker was told his own contract would not be renewed as manager of the outreach program.
The news article goes on to note that while Cleveland Ballet has a policy of not discriminating against people who are members of protected classes, body size is not a protected class. Still the Ballet board conducted an internal investigation and engaged outside counsel to also investigate. Ultimately, the board decided to suspend the artistic and executive director pending the results of that investigation.