By Nancy Dobbs Owen
6 January 2019
When I first decided that I wanted to write about the reactions I observed regarding the Prince George bullying incident, I thought it would take me a couple of weeks to look at some research, talk to a few people in the industry and come up with a clear and cogent summary of the problems and perhaps a list of solutions. I wrote the introductory article, posted it and planned to post the second and third over the next few weeks. That was intensely naive. The problems of bullying, homophobia, misogyny, and gender (mis)representation are multilayered, intertwined, serious and intensely harmful. The erasure of talent and ambition, the lack of empathy and inclusion, and the often soul crushing meanness that permeates the dance world is illustrated in hundreds of single spaced links, was choked out during long, tearful conversations, and documented in the pages and pages of detailed and vulnerable answers to the simple questions that I posed. Honestly, if it was all bad, maybe it would have been easier to write, but for every heartbreaking, soul crushing anecdote or relayed experience, there was also a story of dance as the source of salvation, of found family, and of overwhelming love. I plan, over the course of these next two articles, to explore this dichotomy of dark and light all along the spectrum, opening up discussion within and outside of the dance community, hopefully leading to increased understanding, inclusivity, and exploration.
So, what are the solutions? How do we honor all of our dancers and their individual hardships while shifting the gender balance in leadership to reflect the population, both in and out of the dance world? In addition to Kate Crews Linsley and Anacia Weiskittel, I interviewed three amazing women who are all working in or towards leadership roles in ballet: Amy Seiwert is Artistic Director of The Sacramento Ballet as well as the founder and Artistic Director of her own company, Amy Seiwert’s Imagery. Her Nutcracker is the only full-length ballet choreographed by a woman this season among the top fifty companies in the United States based on research by the Dance Data Project who’s “theory of change is that once the public, dance critics, and foundations know the numbers, they won’t be able to hide any more.” Stella Abrera-Radetsky is a principal dancer with American Ballet theater and in January is stepping into a new role as Artistic Director of Kaatsbaan, the Hudson Valley’s cultural park for dance and an incubator for the growth, advancement and preservation of professional dance. Nicole Haskins is a ballet choreographer and dance educator who has had pieces commissioned by Richmond Ballet, Smuin Contemporary Ballet and Oregon Ballet Theatre among others.
Read the full article in the LA Dance Chronicle.