By Luke Jennings
28 April 2013
As a nation we are well supplied with choreographers. Matthew Bourne, Akram Khan, Wayne McGregor, Liam Scarlett, Christopher Wheeldon… the list goes on. All are highly acclaimed, players on the world stage, their services booked for years ahead. So why are their female colleagues struggling for visibility? Why, when British dance was founded by women like Ninette de Valois and Marie Rambert, and has always employed more women than men, are there no high-profile women choreographers?
It's 14 years since a woman was commissioned to create a main-stage ballet at the Royal Opera House. If this were true of women playwrights at the National Theatre, or female artists at the Tate, there would be outrage. But at the flagship institution of British dance, the omission has escaped public notice. As it did last summer when the Royal Ballet and the National Gallery launched a collaboration named Metamorphosis: Titian 2012. Of the 15 artists and choreographers involved, none was a woman. An ironic decision, given that the subject was the goddess Diana, the personification of feminine power.
Even in contemporary dance, historically a territory marked out by choreographic pioneers such as Martha Graham and Pina Bausch, men are much more prominent than women. In the UK the female choreographers are there – Fleur Darkin, Shobana Jeyasingh, Charlotte Vincent and others have been diligently carving out careers for years – but it's almost always their male colleagues, even the less experienced ones, who get the big commissions. "It's a nightmare for those of us who watch as men get given chances they are simply not ready for while we graft away at our craft and take smaller-scale opportunities," says Janis Claxton, an Edinburgh-based choreographer. "Women quit because they don't get the support that their male colleagues get, and having to push constantly against this outrageous gender inequality is infuriating."
Read the full article in The Guardian.