Anchorage Ballet head leaves Wasilla studio amid sexual-misconduct claims
The head of the Anchorage Classical Ballet Academy is "no longer working" at a Wasilla dance studio which state documents say he owns, after allegations of sexual misconduct on his part in Anchorage.
An unidentified employee of Dancers Workshop who answered the phone Wednesday said 50-year-old Michaelangelo Canale isn't working at the studio. Anchorage Police are investigating a sexual assault report involving Canale, and asking that any other victims he may have had come forward.
Canale, the founder and artistic director of the non-profit academy, is also the current owner of Fouettes, LLC, which is listed as the owner of Dancers Workshop of Wasilla, according to a State of Alaska business-license search engine.
According to the Dancers Workshop website, “Since 1987, thousands of children and adults have taken dance classes, preschool ballet classes, or summer camps at Dancers Workshop, more than any other studio in the Wasilla area.”
At least two, now-former, students of ACBA have come forward with claims of sexual misconduct. Alex Icet, 27, and Allison Ackles, 19, met with KTVA Monday to detail what they believe is systematic sexual misconduct in an environment that has permitted the behavior to go on for years.
Beyond serious accusations of sexual misconduct, both Ackles and Icet addressed a concerning culture within the academy they describe as "toxic."
Ed Barrington, president of the academy's board of directors, was traveling this week and declined via email to immediately comment on Canale.
"A formal statement will come after the Christmas holiday," Barrington wrote. "The ACBA board takes this matter extremely seriously and will comment later next week."
A letter provided to KTVA that was reportedly presented to the Anchorage Ballet Board on behalf of several parents back in 2016 corroborates those concerns.
The letter also casts doubt on financial detachment between Canale's business, Dancers Workshop, and the non-profit ACBA:
"It is unclear to the parents that everything is “above boards” regarding studio usage, payment, and proper representation. The girls represent Anchorage Ballet in their categories, yet checks were made out to Dancers Workshop as payment for private lessons given by Michelangelo. No one wants to be part of something that seems less than honest as it relates to the Anchorage Ballet and all of its students. It’s less than honest for Michelangelo to require his students to buy Russian Pointe or Suffolk brand pointe shoes from his business at Dancers Workshop, claiming those are the “best”. In fact, there are a variety of shoes available to students and those particular brands do not meet the needs of every student. Lucky is the student whose foot can wear one of “his shoes”. He is in a position to harass a student until she purchases shoes for sale at his business, so he benefits by their purchase. Times have changed and current students can purchase what ever they need online or at our local dance store, often more cheaply than what is offered at Anchorage Ballet. There should be no pressure to buy from him. There should be no concern that a student would be denied a role for not having “the right shoes”."
The Dancers Workshop employee who answered the phone Wednesday declined to answer any questions about when Canale stopped working there and asked KTVA not to call again.
Wednesday, APD released a call for victims to come forward in a Nixle alert:
"Anyone who believes they are either a victim or has knowledge of someone else who may be, is requested to call Police Dispatch and ask to speak with a Sexual Assault Detective (786-8900, press “0”)."
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