Abuse probe finds grave flaws at Vienna State Opera ballet school

VIENNA (dpa)- Reported physical and verbal abuse of children at Austria's top ballet academy was linked to a nearly total lack of quality control and proper management, an inquiry commission has found.
The government set up the commission in April following reports of abusive teaching methods and a case of alleged sexual harassment at the Vienna State Opera's ballet school, which currently has around 130 students aged between 10 and 18, 80 per cent of them from abroad.

The commission said in its final report on Tuesday that the school lacked any written criteria for hiring staff or managing students' health problems.
In addition, the commission found that the Vienna State Opera's ballet director only visits the school a few times a year even though managing it is one of his tasks.
"We received reports that advice was given [to students] to start smoking so that they would be less hungry," commission chairwoman Susanne Reindl-Krauskopf told a press conference.
Students were also addressed by their first name and clothing size in order to highlight their weight, and there were reports of physical abuse during training.
The Vienna State Opera has started work to improve the situation, but the commission criticized that changes seem designed to improve the public image rather than student's well-being.
When asked whether she would advise parents to enrol their children, legal scholar Reindl-Krauskopf said Vienna-based parents could make up for the academy's lacking medical and psychological support, while parents of foreign students could not.
"I would advise them to reconsider," she said about foreign parents.

Tuesday, December 17th 2019

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