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Former dancer settles first body shaming legal case in ballet and dance

The first legal case claiming body shaming abuse in ballet has been settled on behalf of a former dancer who developed body dysmorphia after attending an independent performing arts boarding school. 

Posted on 12 March 2024

The claimant was a talented dancer who took up a place at the Hammond School, a co-educational performing arts boarding school in Chester, after passing an audition and obtaining a scholarship. She chose Hammond after receiving numerous offers from dance schools. 

The three years of abuse that she describes taking place at the school ended her hope for a dance career and the psychiatric injuries she suffered resulted in a formal diagnosis of body dysmorphia which continue to affect her to date.

The former dancer reached out to the Hammond School to complain about the body shaming abuse she suffered from teachers but was told that it did not constitute a complaint according to their policy. Following this, she instructed Dino Nocivelli, abuse claims lawyer and partner at Leigh Day Solicitors, to pursue a civil case. 

The issue of body shaming in ballet and dance had never been tested legally before. Dino had to prove the alleged abuse had taken place, that it was abusive and had resulted in psychiatric injuries, and that the school owed a duty of care to the claimant which had been breached. 

After carefully analysing information and speaking to numerous witnesses, Dino felt that the former dancer’s case had a good prospect of success and issued the case at the High Court in London. 

Settlement negotiations began in February 2024 and a settlement amount was agreed after taking into account the psychiatric impact of the reported abuse on the claimant and her therapy needs. 
The claimant wanted to obtain a written apology from the Hammond, however they settled the case without accepting liability. 
The settlement was reached without any confidentiality clauses, NDAs or gagging orders; however the claimant has decided to preserve her anonymity to protect her private and family life. 
A BBC radio interview with Dino about this case and the topic of abuse in dance was aired Tuesday 12 March.  
Dino Nocivelli said: 
“Further to recent media coverage of alleged body shaming and abuse in ballet and dance, we are glad to report that a settlement has now been reached in the first case of its kind and we are hopeful that others will soon follow. 
“The conclusion of this matter and at such an early stage in court proceedings supports my view that not only did my client have a strong case but that body shaming is wrong and can cause significant and long-lasting psychiatric injuries. The fight to expose the scale and seriousness of this issue within ballet and dance is still ongoing, but my team and I will do all that we can to help those who report suffering abuse and to hopefully help create real change so that future ballerinas and dancers are better protected. The demand for an inquiry into body shaming and abuse in ballet and dance continues to grow every day and we demand the Government to now finally act on these concerns.” 

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Abuse claims Human rights

Dino Nocivelli

Dino is an experienced child sexual abuse claims lawyer

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