The Guardian: ‘All men for 150 years’: women take centre stage at Royal New Zealand Ballet
By Charlotte Graham-McLay
31 January 2020
It’s an ethereal art form in which dancers, who are overwhelmingly female, strive for unattainable perfection performing works almost always created by men. But in uncompromising world of ballet, where the work of female choreographers is often relegated to one-off showcases while men take the spotlight, a ballet company in New Zealand is making history with a whole year of performances that put women creators centre stage.
“For 14 years I’d only ever performed works by men,” says Alice Topp, a ballerina and, in 2018, the second woman ever to hold the post of resident choreographer at the Australian Ballet in its almost 60-year history. Now, she perches on a Swiss ball in the Royal New Zealand Ballet’s light, airy rehearsal studios in Wellington, still sweating from the morning class she has just ducked out of, hair loose around her shoulders.
Things have changed in the ballet world – Topp wears sweatpants to class these days, rather than pink leotards, and no longer scrapes her hair back into a tight bun – but not fast enough.
“It’s hard when you have to fight for opportunities,” she says. “I want to see a shift happen, and that’s not going to happen from sitting back and talking about it.”
In 2020, the Royal New Zealand Ballet will become the first classical company in the world to perform an entire year of works choreographed solely by women – including one by Topp – a move that is, shockingly, radical.
Read the full article in the Guardian.