By Sharon Basco
10 January 2020
In the not-distant past, major ballet companies went year after year, decade after decade, without a single ballet made by a woman. Then, seven years ago, choreographer Amy Seiwert did something no one else had done: She researched U.S. ballet troupes with budgets exceeding $5 million, looking at the number of female-made ballets in the 2012-2013 season. According to the Dance Data Project, she found that of 290 ballets staged that year, just 25 (or 8.62%) were choreographed by women. And people, like Boston Ballet artistic director Mikko Nissinen, began to take notice. “I was staggered by the numbers,” he said.
A sign that representation of women in the creative ranks will be sustained and improved upon is the emergence of the Dance Data Project as an official nonprofit last year. (The project began in 2015 as a simple database.) The organization describes itself as “a global resource for the study and analysis of major national and international dance companies, venues, and choreographic awards.”
The Dance Data Project compiles statistics annually to track progress (or lack of it) in major ballet companies with the belief that cold, hard facts will drive change. Here’s an example: Of the 50 largest (by expenditure) American ballet troupes, in the 2018-2019 season, 81 percent of the works were choreographed by men. In the 2019-2020 season, 79 percent of the works will be choreographed by men.
No one ever said it would be easy, or happen quickly, but the glass ceiling has been cracked. Now, there are other crucial gender issues to be addressed. One is equal pay. Another is the chance to fail. And a third is about creativity itself, about development of a special, individual voice, something that traditionally was discouraged in girls.
Read the full article on WBUR.