London principal is convicted

London principal is convicted


norman lebrecht

May 11, 2021

Former English National Ballet principal dancer Yat-Sen Chang has been found guilty on 12 counts of sexual assault on four female students between December 2009 and March 2016.

Yat-Sen Chang, 49, who now lives in Germany, has been remanded in custody and warned to expect a long prison sentence.

Report here.


  • Darrell says:

    There is a strange relationship between sex and ballet. Is it because of the sensuality and eroticism of the human figure in motion? Is it because of the clothes, dresses, leotards and everything else? Is it because powerful people take advantage of others? Who knows, I’ve never been a dancer.

    • V.Lind says:

      Well, really — it’s hardly unique to ballet. How many stories have we had here in just the last few years about sexual abuses, charged and convicted, in orchestras and music schools? Are you suggesting that hearing an aria or an arpeggio turns previously decent people into sex abusers?

      There is no walk of life where this sort of thing is not present, to some degree or other. It doesn’t seem to me that ballet is any worse than any other line of work.

      • henry williams says:

        where is the management
        while this is happening.

      • Darrell says:

        I was referring precisely to the fact that the world of ballet seems so delicate and then, behind the curtain, news like this happens with some frequency. Anyway, classical music is a somewhat rough world.

        • Sue Sonata Form says:

          One famous ballet company even had an acid attack on an individual in a leadership position.

  • Blah says:

    This is not about sex… It’s about 16-year-old girls and a 40-year-old teacher. He is old.

    • M Le Balai says:

      This is not necessarily about sex per se or age for that matter and it is certainly not unique to ballet -although anywhere where people are in working in very close physical proximity with others is going to be problematic. I’m not going to comment on this particular case as I don’t know any of the particulars, but it’s about people (primarily men) in positions of power and using that power to act inappropriately towards those who either feel they cannot refuse or who are vulnerable. And it needs to stop.

      • Blah says:

        Yes, it needs to stop. A 16-year-old student does not need to bear her/his teacher panting while massaging her… The age and position matter a lot and it´s exteremly confusing, creepy and scary. The thing is we see a photo of an attractive man (because he IS attractive at that photo AND he was a good dancer) + a talk about sexual assault and the first thing that comes to people’s mind, is that it is about sex. But it is not. Sexual assault is not sex. (And there is a lot of enabling but not much help…)

  • Darrell says:

    The difference between the look in the photograph that illustrates the news here in SD and the one that appears in the link to the BBC is striking:

  • Karl says:

    Looks like he gave creepy massages. I wonder how many years in prison you get for that.

  • La plus belle voix says:

    Gives a new meaning to The Nutcracker. (Loud boos off.)

  • Sharon says:

    Yeah, ballet’s, which as we know it started in the nineteenth century, basis is largely sex and sexual harrassment when this dancer left China may have been defined differently.

    However this guy had been in England long enough to understand what appropriate conduct is.

    I understand that in certain Catholic schools a nun would chaperone a classroom of girls if there was a male teacher. In Jewish Orthodox schools and colleges a door would always be left open if a teacher was alone with a student of the opposite sex.

    I have read that when Beethoven taught a female piano or harpsicord student in her home there was always a servant sitting in the room.

    When I did physical therapy early in the year a male physical therapist never did my (knee) massage. Apparently this was the policy of the facility.

    Very frequently a male doctor will request the presence of a female in the room when he examines a female patient.

    I realize that sexual harassment can include situations of unequal power relationships even of the same sex, but rules concerning chaperoning, and I include as chaperoning situations where a second person may not be physically present but there is still no privacy, like an open door to the instruction room or studio that leads into a busy hallway or waiting area, make sense whenever there is any one on one teaching or examination. Yeah, it may be a little distracting especially in music instruction but it’s worth the inconvenience.

    Parents, administrators students, patients and clients should insist on this and professionals should not be insulted if they do. It protects the student, client or patient as well as the teacher doctor or other professional.

    If the English National Ballet had this policy and made it known that chaperoning is the expected code of conduct with students even outside the institution even people with predatory tendencies might stay out of trouble as well as preventing trauma for their potential victims.

    Nevertheless it is the professional’s responsibility to create protective conditions, not the student’s.

    • Hilary says:

      “ If the English National Ballet had this policy and made it known that chaperoning is the expected code of conduct with students …”

      A little opaque in some of the reporting but the terrible conduct occurred to students at the “young dancers academy” (not affiliated to English National Ballet Company) and English National Ballet *School* (as distinct from the company)