Dance As Activism

The Biggest Questions Facing the Dance World About Sexual Harassment

Last Saturday night, Dance/NYC, Gibney Dance and the Actors Fund hosted a conversation on sexual harassment in the dance world. The floor was open for anyone in attendance to share whatever they wanted: personal stories, resources, suggestions.

The event brought to light some of the questions the dance world is facing, and though we don't yet have all the answers, it helped lay out the areas we need to address:

What would dance-specific sexual harassment training and policies look like?

Corporate harassment trainings tend to tell employees to avoid touching coworkers and to not wear revealing clothing in the workplace. Obviously, these rules aren't applicable to the dance world. Many in attendance agreed that everyone in the dance world should undergo training, so what should it include?

How can we protect freelancers working outside an institutional setting?

Dance work is becoming more and more freelance-based. Artists working in these spaces often aren't protected by any sort of sexual harassment policies or procedures. Who can artists turn to when they've experienced harassment in a freelance setting, and how can we hold harassers accountable in these spaces?

How can we protect dancers who speak up from backlash?

The dance world is small, and well-paid gigs are scarce. It makes sense that dancers might fear getting blackballed should they report sexual harassment. How do we ensure dancers can be heard and keep their jobs?

How can we teach young dancers to have autonomy over their bodies?

Essential to combatting sexual harassment is challenging the culture of silence that permeates the dance world. This means teaching dancers from an early age that they have a voice. But how do you teach children to have autonomy over their bodies while simultaneously teaching them techniques that require the utmost discipline and focus?

Let us know: What other questions do you have about the dance world and sexual harassment?


Have you experienced sexual harassment in the dance field? Please fill out our survey if you feel comfortable sharing.

Read the notes from Saturday's event here, and find Dance/NYC's list of sexual harassment resources here.

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