Anonymous Story 69

““Your story matters.”

I worked at a small studio that I loved for 5 years. I had trust in the team and loved the students. Then I started having parents approach me with concern regarding favoritism from the director and I tried to counter it by being inclusive and fair in my own classes. Then students started reporting signs of grooming to me. I wasn’t sure how to handle this kind of behavior from a superior.

I took the time and space to discuss it with groups like The Dance Safe and DEEA but it’s a small studio and word spread fast that the students were confiding in me. While I was trying to think of the best way to approach the director with my concerns, she instead confronted me and asked why I didn’t defend her and threatened to fire me. I felt cornered and disregarded and the power dynamics were overwhelming. I approached the director the following day when I had some time to process and I agreed it would not be a good idea for me to continue working there…

I also tried to acknowledge her feelings as I felt sorry that it had not been discussed sooner. But in my attempts to continue the conversation she took my apology as a confession of some sort of fault and refused to hear anything else I had to say. I finished out the last few weeks of class and was bullied by her the entire time. I am not much of a crier but I was constantly on the verge of tears. It was heartbreaking to leave my students after that year, not only because I cared deeply for all of them but because I worried that nothing had changed. So I put this out there for all of you who are dealing with something difficult…

If you are in a position of power, be sure there are systems in place where people can report concerns that will be heard and addressed. And that these systems aren’t backed by the power dynamics in place. If you are a teacher who is noticing grooming behaviors or more, know that there are resources. The Dance Safe and DEEA are two of my favorites. If you are a student who is witnessing or is a victim of grooming, don’t wait to report it. I’m so sorry that you’re affected by this inappropriate behavior, but know that there are plenty of us adults who deeply care and want your dance experience to be a safe one. Your story matters.”


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