Royal Ballet Flanders parts company with Assis Carreiro


The Royal Ballet of Flanders has announced that it is ending its contract with artistic director Assis Carreiro, effective immediately

Productions will continue as normal

The Royal Ballet of Flanders has ended its contract with artistic director Assis Carreiro, the organisation announced last week. In a short statement, the now merged ballet and opera said performances would continue as programmed.

“All future productions, including Onegin and Don Quixote, will be prepared and performed with all our customary care and skill,” said general manager Lena De Meerleer. “Our audience has always been supportive. We have all it takes to continue on our path to represent classical ballet in all its forms and possibilities in Flanders and abroad.”

Carreiro was hired in 2012 from Dance East in Ipswich in the UK. She replaced Kathryn Bennetts, who, after transforming it into a world-class ballet company, resigned over budget cuts and the government’s plans to merge the ballet and the opera.

Although the ballet did not provide an explanation for letting her go, from the beginning, Carreiro was a controversial choice for the role of artistic director. She had little dance experience, unions complained, and mainly worked in co-ordinating roles. “She let it be known that she will not be attending rehearsals or auditions herself, but will bring in assistants and consultants to support her in those activities,” Servais Le Compte of union ACV-Transcom Cultuur told De Standaard in 2012. “But judging dancers is by far one of the most important jobs of an artistic director.”

Over the last two years, the company has toured far less, giving dancers fewer opportunities to perform, and the level of physical condition decreased. That meant that the injuries suffered routinely by dancers took longer to heal. A dossier was put together containing “dozens” of complaints to be submitted to the committee charged with accident prevention and protection in the workplace.

Dancers wrote a letter to the organisation’s board late last year citing that 69% of them had voted no confidence in the artistic director. Eventually, one-third of the company left – 15 dancers out of 45, including some of the more prominent names. The ballet will name a successor as quickly as possible, the statement said.

photo by Katrijn Van Giel/De Standaard