The company was launched 22 years ago by a charismatic dancer, Gil Stroming, who came to fame in the 1990s, performing in the off-Broadway show “Tap Dogs,” described in The New York Times as a “beefcake tap-a-thon.”

Every year, one of the world’s leading dance competition companies sells the dream of Hollywood fame to hundreds of thousands of ambitious young dancers hoping to launch careers on television, in movies and on stage, AP reports.

But behind the bright lights and pulsing music, some dancers say they were sexually assaulted, harassed and manipulated by the company’s powerful founder and famous teachers and choreographers, according to a joint investigation by The Associated Press and the Toronto Star.

The problems date back to the founding of Los Angeles-based Break The Floor Productions; as the company has grown into an industry powerhouse, its leaders perpetuated a culture of sex and silence, according to interviews with dozens of former and current staff and students.

Break the Floor’s reach extends across the entertainment industry to some of the biggest names in music, television and social media. Alumni and faculty have danced on stage with Lady Gaga and Taylor Swift, at the Oscars and the Super Bowl. Company instructors have appeared on “Dancing with the Stars,” “Dance Moms” and “So You Think You Can Dance.” When COVID-19 lockdowns suspended in-person workshops, Break the Floor enlisted social media superstar Charli D’Amelio, whose TikTok account has around 10.5 billion likes, to record instructional videos.

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