A ballet company has been facing backlash after a black dancer spoke out and insisted she was told to whiten her skin and wear white makeup to blend in.
According to the reports, 29-year-old Chloé Lopes Gomes joined Staatsballet back in 2018 and made history as she became the first black dancer to work for the prestigious ballet company.
As the young performer insisted in an interview with The Guardian, however, she was soon subjected to racial discrimination at her workplace.
French ballerina Lopes Gomes described how her instructor ridiculed her in class and ordered her to whiten her skin and apply white makeup so that she would better “blend in” during the Swan Lake performances.
In another instance, the same instructor allegedly refused to provide the dancer with a white veil she needed for her part in La Bayadère because of her skin color.
Speaking to The Guardian, Lopes Gomes insisted that her teacher made a series of racist comments including the time he told her she didn’t belong with them because she’s black.
After complaining about the instructor to the co-artistic director, Gomes was allegedly reassured she wouldn’t be forced to whiten her skin for the performance.
While dancers commonly apply powder to whiten their skin for Swan Lake performances, Gomes insisted this was pointless in her case because no amount of powder would bring her skin tone close to that of her fellow performers.
Back in October this year, the 29-year-old decided to take legal action against the ballet company after she was informed her contract wouldn’t be renewed.
Speaking of the allegations of racism, Interim Artistic Director Christiane Theobald said:
“The racist and discriminatory behavior that was brought to light in our company deeply moves us … The necessary skills and tools to deal with issues of discrimination need to be worked on thoroughly.”