Friday Aug 19, 2022
Friday Aug 19, 2022

Mega dance company bred culture of sex, silence

2022 Apr 20, 16:42, Los Angeles
Old tap shoes rest on a chair as Gary Schaufeld describes his time as a young performer in dance competitions, Thursday, Feb. 10, 2022, at his home in Port Jefferson, N.Y. He was a teen in 2004, assisting a successful tap dancer named Danny Wallace. Schaufeld had fallen in love with tap at 7 years old, and assisting Wallace offered a chance to raise his profile and learn from one of the best. (AP Photo)

Every year, one of the world’s leading dance competition companies sells the dream of Hollywood fame to hundreds of thousands of ambitious young dancers hoping to launch careers on television, in movies and on stage.

But behind the bright lights and pulsing music, some dancers say they were sexually assaulted, harassed and manipulated by the company’s powerful founder and famous teachers and choreographers, according to a joint investigation by The Associated Press and the Toronto Star.

The problems date back to the founding of Los Angeles-based Break The Floor Productions; as the company has grown into an industry powerhouse, its leaders perpetuated a culture of sex and silence, according to interviews with dozens of former and current staff and students.

Break the Floor’s reach extends across the entertainment industry to some of the biggest names in music, television and social media. Alumni and faculty have danced on stage with Lady Gaga and Taylor Swift, at the Oscars and the Super Bowl. Company instructors have appeared on “Dancing with the Stars,” “Dance Moms” and “So You Think You Can Dance.” When COVID-19 lockdowns suspended in-person workshops, Break the Floor enlisted social media superstar Charli D’Amelio, whose TikTok account has around 10.5 billion likes, to record instructional videos.


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