Contemporary is not gender specific

More is being done in the dance industry to bring boys and young men into the art.

Regardless of the fact that male contemporary choreographers are dominating the industry, there remains an opposite imbalance in everyday classes.

In Canterbury Dance Company for example, young women outnumber the men by over double. 11 women to five men, aged 18-21.

Two male dancers rehearsing in a contemporary class. Photo: Gender in Dance

Two male dancers rehearsing in a contemporary class. Photo: Gender in Dance

The industry recognises this issue and this was reflected in the number of auditions and jobs offered to male dancers last year.

Article19 publishes almost every audition that comes up from dance companies in the UK. During the first seven months of 2014, Article19 published 78 auditions for professional dancers.

Of those auditions, five specifically requested female professional dancers, while 24 specifically requested male professionals.

Sophie Guariglia teaching an advanced contemporary class at PPA, Canterbury. Photo: Gender in Dance

Sophie Guariglia teaching an advanced contemporary class at PPA, Canterbury. Photo: Gender in Dance

At Phoenix Performing Arts (PPA) dance company in Canterbury, in the contemporary class, there are a five active male dancers in comparison to 6 female dancers (numbers may be different per class).

The founder and director of PPA, Sophie Guariglia, believes this balance is not actively sought after across the whole industry but is welcome regardless.

“You do want more boys. I think part of it is that there are less boys in the industry so they’re almost like something special.

“But for me it’s all about the technique. And I’m sure it’s the same for others. For our company, if they have strong technique then I’ll have them in the company and if they don’t then they don’t cut it, whether they’re a girl or a boy.”

Phoenix Performing arts in Canterbury. Photo: gender in Dance

Phoenix Performing arts in Canterbury. Photo: Gender in Dance

Her dance school opens its doors to all dancers, beginners and advanced aiming to train them and help them develop.

“Our general classes are open to anyone who want to try it. We actually have more boys than girls in the adult contemporary class.”

Men do certainly have a place in contemporary dance, the only problem that remains is trying to balance numbers from each gender.

A sentiment that holds all these ideas of participation together is a beautifully worded and bold comment by Hannah Aujila, a Dance Education student at Canterbury Christ Church University.

“Contemporary is not gender specific. When you’re dancing, you’re just a body, not a gender.”

Want to find out more? Dancers at Canterbury Dance Company offered their thoughts on why boys and young men should take part in contemporary.



 

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