The Women in the Festival Scene

By Isabelle Vail

7 May 2018

Dance Festivals get a lot of press. They bring in perhaps the most range in dance, with dancers of most companies looking for a way to keep dancing during the summer months, and big stars looking for some freelancing to hone their art and stay relevant.

Dance festivals also highlight those who are most relevant in the choreography scene, along with the up-an-comers. Their leadership, however,  is inclusive, as one would hope. Vail International Dance Festival is headed by Damian Woetzel, Ballet Sun Valley by Isabella Boylston, and Jacob's Pillow by its director Pamela Tatge. Notably less progressive is Nantucket Dance Festival with its director Tyler Angle.

Below these leaders are more. At Vail, Michelle Dorrance was artist-in-residence in 2017, and behind Isabella Boylston was choreographer Gemma Bond premiering works highlighted by the festival. The 2018 repertoire of Vail includes a world premier by Justin Peck, who will create work along to female composer and Pulitzer Prize-winner Caroline Shaw's music. More world premiers follow, and these are created by women: Michelle Dorrance, Claudia Schreier, Lauren Lovette. Tiler Peck, principal with the New York City Ballet and Vail regular, will also premier a work - her first piece of choreography for the public. It is an exciting year to choreograph in Vail valley. 

Jacob's Pillow has made a particularly exciting announcement, as well. The 2018 festival will heavily feature women. Ranee Ramaswamy and Aparna Ramaswamy of Ragamala Dance Company will exhibit work, along with Nicola Gunn, who "combines dance and theater." Michelle Dorrance's company, Dorrance Dance, will perform her creations. Cie Art Move Concept will arrive, bringing along the French hip-hop scene and work generated by female-male duo Soria Rem and Mehdi Ouachek. Sharon Fridman's company will perform award-winning work by the female choreographer. Faye Driscoll will return, and Limon Dance Company puts forth another female-created work by Kate Weare. Netta  Yerushalmy will present her newest world premier during the festival and Sonya Tayeh will also present work from her repertoire. Lastly, ODC/Dance brings in another female choreographer,  KT Nelson, whose  Dead Reckoning will be showcased in August.

It seems 2018 will be a good summer for female choreographers to generate press and hopefully garner some commissions from the companies.