More dancers allege body-shaming and bullying at UK ballet schools
The world of ballet, long romanticized for its elegance and artistry, has been tarnished by a growing wave of disturbing allegations. Following an initial investigation that exposed “toxic” cultures of body-shaming and bullying at two prestigious UK ballet schools, dozens more dancers have come forward with harrowing accounts of abuse across the nation.
These latest revelations paint a bleak picture of a system seemingly prioritizing physical perfection over the well-being of its young talents. Former students from the Elmhurst Ballet School in Birmingham and the London Vocational Ballet School, known until recently as the Young Dancers Academy, detail experiences that border on psychological torture.
One Elmhurst student recounted being locked in a room during a mental health crisis, while another at the London Vocational Ballet School developed anorexia and nearly succumbed to suicidal thoughts. These are not isolated incidents; they represent a systemic flaw that permeates the ballet education system in the UK.
The initial investigation, conducted by sources, focused on the Royal Ballet School and Elmhurst, uncovering testimonies from over 50 ex-students who endured years of body-shaming comments, coded language promoting unhealthy weight loss, and an overall disregard for their emotional well-being.
These latest claims expand the scope of the problem, implicating more institutions and highlighting the urgency for widespread reform. The dancers’ voices shatter the illusion of grace and expose the dark underbelly of a culture obsessed with achieving an unrealistic ideal, often at the expense of mental and physical health.
“What it felt like was just being bullied on a daily basis,” shared India Thompson, a former Royal Ballet School student, to sources. Her words echo the sentiment of countless others who felt trapped in a system that prioritized outward appearances over individual needs.
The response from the schools has been mixed. While some acknowledge the severity of the allegations and pledge to improve safeguarding measures, others maintain that their records differ from the accounts given and insist that student welfare is a top priority.
However, the sheer volume of testimonies and the consistent nature of the accusations paint a different picture. This is not about isolated incidents; it’s about a culture that systematically prioritizes a narrow standard of beauty at the expense of the dancers’ well-being.
The impact of these experiences is far-reaching. Many dancers suffer lasting emotional and physical consequences, struggling with eating disorders, self-esteem issues, and even post-traumatic stress disorder. The scars of such abuse can linger long after the curtain falls on their ballet careers.
The fight for change has begun. Dancers and their families are speaking out, demanding accountability and a shift in the ballet culture. Advocacy groups are pushing for stricter safeguarding measures and revised curriculums that prioritize mental health and body positivity.
Reform will be a lengthy and arduous journey.. But as more dancers find their voices and raise awareness, the hope is that the world of ballet will finally shed its toxic façade and embrace a culture that celebrates artistry without sacrificing the well-being of its young stars.