Can Ballet Be Feminist?
Updated: Jul 5, 2020
There are elements of ballet that are fundamentally different than the average workplace. Touching can't be removed from teaching or choreographing. Even as a professional, you never entirely age out of the student–teacher relationship that exists between dancers and directors—and at times, it can feel as though everyone is in charge of you except you. Since grit is as much a part of ballet as elegance, it's often tricky to identify the line between toughing things out and recognizing when someone is abusing their power.
Yet how are young dancers supposed to find their own voice amidst their training years—and how do we ensure that women, in particular, amplify their voices as they progress in their careers?
Choreographer Amy Seiwert, the incoming artistic director of Sacramento Ballet, explains that at a company where she's created multiple times, the director instigated a choreography workshop—and not one female dancer signed up to participate. "Why weren't they stepping up? When I spoke to those ladies, one young artist's response hit me in the gut," Seiwert says. "Her response: 'Why would anyone care what I have to say?' "