With a short Instagram video message, Chase Johnsey announced yesterday that he will be joining English National Ballet.
Hi everybody, this is Chase, with my new man bun, which I'm sort of obsessed with… So, I wanted to make a huge announcement – one that I'm very nervous about – but today I am joining the English National Ballet, as a First Artist, in their production of Sleeping Beauty. So yeah, I'm freakin' excited, and I'm really happy to share this with the world, and more details will come.
On 1 January, Johnsey resigned from Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo, announcing his decision via a YouTube video where he said he'd quit his “dream job” because he had to stand up for what he believed in.
He said that the Trocks were not about openness and gender freedom as he is. After 14 years with the company he said that he felt obliged to leave because of harassment and humiliation, being told that he was too feminine and that if he underwent gender transition (which he was considering in 2012) he could no longer perform with the company. For many years he has been one of the most visible members of the Trocks, and technically one of its best: he won the UK's National Dance Award for best male dancer last year.
In the video he tells how some members of the company are being bullied with ultimatums for expressing their femininity.
In an interview with Gramilano in 2014, he said,
Trockadero has given me a place where I can openly be myself on and off stage. The company is so interested in having individual and unique artists working for them that it sets an atmosphere of freedom.
Following Chase Johnsey's claims of harassment and discrimination by the management of Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo, and his subsequent resignation, the Board engaged an independent investigator to review these claims, including interviewing 24 witnesses that included current and former company members.
On the issue of legal claims, the investigator did not find that any substantiated claims were presented. However, any assessment of an organization will reveal areas where things can be improved, and the Board has faith that Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo and its management team will benefit from this process and will use this assessment to continue the company on a successful trajectory.
In his ‘resignation video' Johnsey says,
If I don't do another ballet ever again I don't care, because at least I stood up for what I believe in… Trans people should have a place in ballet… and I think that Trockadero should be the first [company] to have that even though they advertise us as men on pointe.
It looks as though Tamara Rojo and English National Ballet are ensuring that his dream isn't being thrown away and showing that there is place for a dancer like Chase Johnsey in a ballet company.
Graham Spicer is a writer, director and photographer in Milan, blogging (under the name ‘Gramilano') about dance, opera, music and photography for people “who are a bit like me and like some of the things I like”. He was a regular columnist for Opera Now magazine and wrote for the BBC until transferring to Italy.
His scribblings have appeared in various publications from Woman's Weekly to Gay Times, and he wrote the ‘Danza in Italia' column for Dancing Times magazine.