Belgian dance company sacks artistic director

Assis Carreiro Carreiro was DanceEast's artistic director and chief executive from 1999 to 2012

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The former head of a leading English dance company has been sacked by the Royal Ballet of Flanders.

The company said it had "decided to end its professional relationship" with its artistic director Assis Carreiro, the ex-director of DanceEast in Ipswich.

Carreiro, who was made an MBE in the New Year Honours list, said she was leaving "with great sadness" and was "very proud of what we have achieved".

The Royal Ballet said a successor would be appointed "as soon as possible".

Born in the Azores, Carreiro was raised in Canada and moved to the UK in 1994.

She was widely praised during her 13-year tenure at DanceEast, which moved to a new headquarters, the £8.9m Jerwood DanceHouse, under her stewardship.

According to English-language publication Flanders Today, however, she was a "controversial choice" to take over the Royal Ballet of Flanders.

It claims her appointment in 2012 led to complaints, a vote of no confidence and a third of the company's dancers leaving.

Announcing her departure, Carreiro said she had just returned from holiday and was told her contract was being terminated on her first day back at work.

"No formal reasons were given," she said.

One British dance critic expressed dismay at the news of her departure, remarking the Flanders company parted ways with another female artistic director, Kathryn Bennetts, two years ago.

"It looks like a malicious April Fool but regrettably it is clearly true," tweeted Graham Watts, chairman of the dance section of the UK Critics' Circle.

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