The Seattle Times: At Pacific Northwest Ballet and elsewhere, female choreographers are a rarity — but that’s changing
By Moira Macdonald
31 October 2019
On an autumn afternoon in a cavernous Pacific Northwest Ballet studio, something brand-new was slowly beginning to take shape. Choreographer Eva Stone, whose ballet, “F O I L,” will make its world premiere as part of the “Locally Sourced” program in November, watched intently as a group of PNB’s female dancers settled into her work, memorizing it in their bodies.
“It’s almost like your hearts are beating in unison,” she said of the delicate movements of a trio. Urging the dancers to immerse themselves in each moment, Stone reminded them that the steps were actually uncomplicated. “The magnificence,” she said, “is in you.”
Just the quiet, everyday miracle of art and bodies, but there was something unusual going on that day.
Though we often think of ballet in terms of women — pointe shoes, tutus, swan queens — female choreographers are relatively rare in the ballet world, and local female choreographers at PNB are even rarer. Stone, a Seattle-based dance-maker and producer (she curates the annual dance festival, “CHOP SHOP: Bodies of Work,” and is artistic director of the Stone Dance Collective), is making her PNB debut as a choreographer. She’s one of only five women whose choreography has been seen on PNB’s mainstage in the last five seasons, along with Twyla Tharp, Crystal Pite, Jessica Lang and Robyn Mineko Williams. In that same time frame, 27 men have presented their work.
While ballet company rosters tend to be slightly majority-female (PNB currently has 47 dancers on its roster, 27 of whom are women), the statistics for those who create the dances tell another story. The Dance Data Project, which examined the top 50 American ballet companies, found that for the 2018-19 season, 81 percent of the works performed by those companies was choreographed by men; for 2019-20, that figure was 79 percent. PNB’s average is in the same neighborhood — over the past five seasons, 83 percent of the works on its stage have been choreographed by men.
Read the full article in The Seattle Times.
“Locally Sourced,” a Pacific Northwest Ballet program featuring three world-premiere ballets from local choreographers: “F O I L” by Eva Stone, “Love and Loss” by Donald Byrd,” and “Wash of Grey” by Miles Pertl. Nov. 8-17, McCaw Hall, 321 Mercer St., Seattle; $37-$190; 206-441-2424, pnb.org