Breaking: Ballet chief is fired for ‘improper language’. Whatever next?

Breaking: Ballet chief is fired for ‘improper language’. Whatever next?


norman lebrecht

March 26, 2018

Kenneth Greve, Artistic Director of the Finnish National Ballet, was released today from his duties.

The reason given was, ‘among others, improper language towards the dancers’ physical and appearance and commenting (on) aspects which belong to their personal life.’

Greve said: ‘I am extremely sorry. I have a passionate attitude towards my work, and I confess that I have gone beyond my limits in the position of a director. I apologise my behaviour both from the dancers and the Finnish National Ballet. I wish that this does not harm in anyway the reputation and future of the national ballet in Finland.’

Greve, who is Danish, resigned in December 2016 from Finnish National Ballet but appears to have stayed on while they continued the search for a successor.


  • Anon says:

    The new totalitarian ideology of “negative feelings have not to be dealt with, they have to be made illegal” prevails once more.

    • Sue says:

      Exactly. We live in ugly authoritarian times.

      • John Borstlap says:

        But the irony is that the current awareness of the inethical nature of improper conduct is inspired by the intention to protect freedoms and individual diversity, = perfectly legitimate.

  • Simon Evnine says:

    But his contract ran 2014-2018 so it maybe was more a case of not renewing rather than sacking.

  • Sharon says:

    I remember that in the biography of Erik Bruhn, based largely on his interviews, he discussed a case of sexual harassment in the Danish National Ballet in the 1950s or 60s that nearly tore the ballet apart. Although “me too” is based at least partially on the changing role of women history does repeat itself. Gore Vidal mentions in his autobiography that Rudolf Nureyev, then a neighbor, told him that Erik Bruhn warned him (Nureyev) to stay away from Peter Martins, then a teenager, in order to avoid legal trouble!

  • John Borstlap says:

    I wonder, why have I never been harrassed? I’m excluded from all things that make life so interesting.


  • Nik says:

    They have a special gala evening scheduled for May entitled “Yours with gratitude, Kenneth”. Is that going ahead?
    It was supposed to mark his ten-year anniversary with the company and his departure, which was anyway planned for this year.

    • Bruce says:

      From the article (courtesy of Google Translate):

      This is a very unfortunate situation. Despite this we continue to appreciate the meritorious work done by Kenneth Greve for the National Ballet, [general manager] Gita Kadambi emphasizes.

      Looks like they may have decided that cancelling the gala wasn’t worth the fuss (and the financial impact).

      • Max Grimm says:

        Another article on the matter states that Greve will continue his work until his contract ends on July 31 this year, although the Finnish National Ballet has stripped him of “all managerial duties”. The article also claims that, while comments about dancers’ physiques and matters pertaining to their private life were contributing factors, the main reason Greve will not stay with the company is that he “overstepped his mandate” (whether that pertains to the alleged comments or not, or what that specifically means will probably not be made public, as the FNB has let it be known that they will deal with the matter completely internally from this point).

  • Ex-Bert says:

    The main Finnish Newspaper Helsingin Sanomat has interviewed (anonymously) 7 dancers who have experience with Greve’s “improper language”. The dancers complain about unwanted touching and fondling, and state that female dancers had started to refuse one-on-one warm up classes that Greve seemed to enjoy.

    The public image of Greve is quite curious. He makes the appearance of old-school princess of a male dancer and seems to enjoy it, seeking all the publicity available in that mode. An overtly gay fashion editor did a major photo shoot with him that was published in a the most important paper in Finland, and in all the photos he looks like a flaming queen with full mannerisms. I doubt all that was just pasted-on by the editor. In another article, granted enormous space, Greve makes the main story his experience with Rudolf Nureyev and that Rudy was madly in love with him but could never have him… I see a troubled personality reminding me of many “old school” strategies, like when gay or bi men had to marry and make kids, and keep proving to the society they are MEN by harassing girls and women to make the point. A primadonna of a wrong kind, and of an era that hopefully can be soon forgotten. – Greve is married with kids.

    The previous general manager (just about to step down next month) of the National Opera knew about the allegations since 2008. She has expressed that as they were brought to her anonymously, she could do nothing. What a scared lame attitude. She should have seriously investigated the matter, and act decisively instead of letting matters brew and escalate.

  • Tomi says:

    The article here seems a bit dismissive about Greve’s conducts and fails to mention that Grave is also alleged to have touched the dancers in an improper way. This is a great way to get fired in Finland.