From the investigations Gender in Dance carried, out one conclusion can be made – male choreographers are dominating the industry.
Our article tackles one of the abstract and underlying reasons but there are so many more reasons to why there is an imbalance in contemporary dance – reasons ranging from the intricacy of maternity to sexualisation which other journalists have attempted to cover and unravel.
At Gender in Dance, we acknowledge our incapability to fully investigate the entirety of the issue but have begun a new found dialogue to this sporadic debate. This will hopefully continue to get people to ask questions.
The fact that over half of 86 dance companies are run by men, while just over a third are run by females, is a figure all should worry about. In addition to that, from 2006 to 2014, in the 603 jobs and audition posted through Article19, 22% were male-only requirements, while half that percentage were female-only.
It is however important to note 67% were gender neutral. So equality is becoming more apparent but perhaps a neutral gender requirement should the only auditions we see in the 21st century; especially when men and women alike can do similar things in contemporary.
Like many of the practitioners we spoke to, there are those who believe there is a deep underlying issue to tackle. There are also others who think there are upcoming female choreographers who do things their way and will surely add balance to the alpha male industry.
Luke Jennings, the veteran dance critic that offered his thoughts to Gender in Dance, expressed the issue beautifully. He pointed to another reason why there is an issue, all the while looking forward to the future.
“There probably are more women in dance overall but what that means is that the competition for them as performers is more acute. So it means that they’re probably less likely to step away from the performing career to take on the burden of choreography at quite a high level [national].
“But slowly I think that that will change. It will change with a consciousness that there is a problem. That is the first step.”
A first and slow step. A look at the history of dance reveals that at the setting up stage of big companies, going back 150 years or so, there are always women; visionary pioneering women who act ahead and set things up.
However, when the company reaches or becomes an establishment entity, you see the men take over. A common trend but it remains quite a generalisation of the industry as a whole.
Regardless of generalisations, there are those who are actively fighting against this gender imbalance on the route to success. All things considered, any dialogue and investigation into this intricate issue is a step towards solving it. But if change is coming, it’s still in its infant steps.