NAFA dance instructor allegedly barred 12-year-old ballerina from taking year-end test because she was “not slim enough”

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The parents of a 12-year-old ballerina aspirant have reportedly alleged that a ballet instructor from the Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts (NAFA) barred their daughter from taking the Royal Academy of Dance test because she was “not slim enough”.

According to local publication RedWire Times (RT), the young ballerina was expelled from NAFA after her parents fought with the instructor in a confrontation over the remarks.

RT reports that the 12-year-old girl was struck off the list of students who were set to sit for their Royal Academy of Dance test at the end of last year. When the instructor was confronted, he allegedly said that the girl was not “slim enough” at 70kg and that he was worried his personal performance review would suffer if she took and failed the test.

The girl’s father, Zheng Yong He, reportedly said: “The reason given was ridiculous and discriminatory. It’s hard to believe that an educator would say something like this.”

Revealing that his daughter is the 2nd highest-scoring student in Singapore after she received 276 points for her PSLE, Mr Zheng said that he enrolled his daughter in art, piano and dance classes to boost her confidence.

He lamented that the instructor’s comments upset his daughter and that her efforts training for the Royal Academy of Dance test all went to waste.

When Mr Zheng and his wife contacted NAFA over the incident on 17 Nov 2018 and met with the school principal. The school, however, apparently told the parents a different story.

The school claimed that it reviewed footage of the 13-year-old’s training and decided that she did not meet the standard necessary to take the test. The school further explained that it decided that the girl should resume her training and take the test the following year instead after sitting out the 2018 test.

The school allegedly denied that the instructor made insensitive comments about the 12-year-old girl’s weight, as well.

After the meeting, an upset Mdm Zheng grabbed the dance instructor by the shoulder.

NAFA promptly lodged a police report and expelled the 12-year-old from the programme. The school allegedly explained that it expelled the student over the lack of respect shown to its staff as it seeks to protect its staff from abuse.

According to RT, Mdm Zheng only grabbed the instructor due to her anxiety. She claims that her daughter had just finished training at the time and was due to meet with her parents. Allegedly unable to find her daughter, Mdm Zheng asked the instructor to help her look for the girl.

When the dance instructor allegedly said that he cannot since he has another class to teach, Mdm Zheng apparently grabbed his shoulder since “she thought it was his responsibility to help her search for her daughter.”

Despite NAFA’s explanation as to why her daughter was expelled, RT reports that Mdm Zheng feels that her child was unfairly expelled because she missed several lessons.