Former Richmond Ballet Student’s Lawsuit Dismissed, but Leaves Room for Changes

Allegations of abuse and exploitation against the Richmond Ballet face legal scrutiny

A judge has dismissed a $10.5 million lawsuit filed by a former student of the Richmond Ballet, ruling that most of the claims did not have sufficient evidence. However, the judge has allowed the plaintiff to make changes to the lawsuit, leaving a window open for further legal action. The lawsuit, which accuses the ballet company of promoting dangerously low weights and causing eating disorders among dancers, has garnered attention for its allegations of physical and psychological abuse. The Richmond Ballet denies these claims and has filed motions to dismiss the lawsuits.

Allegations of Weight Pressure and Eating Disorders

The former student, along with another former dancer, filed civil lawsuits against the Richmond Ballet, claiming that they were forced to maintain dangerously low weights in order to perform. These allegations suggest that such practices led to the development of eating disorders and other health issues. The lawsuits also accuse the ballet company of physical and psychological abuse and exploitation. The plaintiffs are seeking a total of $21 million in damages.

Richmond Ballet’s Denial and Motions to Dismiss

The Richmond Ballet, which serves as the state ballet of Virginia, has vehemently denied the allegations made in the lawsuits. The company filed motions to dismiss the cases, arguing that they lacked a cause of action to proceed to trial. The ballet company maintains that it has always prioritized the safety and well-being of its dancers and has provided a supportive environment for aspiring professionals.

Judge’s Ruling and Dismissal of Claims

After a hearing on one of the motions, Judge Bradley Cavedo ruled that the former student did not provide sufficient evidence to support most of the claims in her lawsuit. Three claims were outright dismissed, but the judge allowed the claims of battery and assault to proceed to trial. However, the judge also granted the plaintiff the opportunity to amend the lawsuit and re-file with changes. The judge noted that the original complaint lacked specificity in identifying acts of negligence or gross negligence by the defendants.

Hope for the Plaintiffs and the Richmond Ballet

Both sides expressed optimism following the judge’s ruling. The attorneys representing the former dancers stated that they plan to file an amended lawsuit in the case involving the former student. They emphasized the importance of the case, particularly concerning the exploitation of a minor’s health and well-being. On the other hand, the Richmond Ballet expressed satisfaction with the ruling and reiterated its commitment to defending its reputation and the safety of its dancers.


The dismissal of the former student’s lawsuit against the Richmond Ballet highlights the challenges faced by those seeking legal recourse in cases of alleged abuse and exploitation. While the judge found that most of the claims lacked sufficient evidence, the opportunity to amend the lawsuit provides a glimmer of hope for the plaintiffs. As the case continues, it raises important questions about the responsibility of institutions to prioritize the well-being of their students and the need for greater transparency and accountability in the dance industry.






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