And if that statement rubs you the wrong way—particularly coming from a highly acclaimed white male choreographer—you're not alone.
On Sunday, American Ballet Theatre artist in residence and international ballet choreographer Alexei Ratmansky posted this on his Facebook page:
Obviously, there's a lot to unpack here. And many of the comments did the unpacking for us:
New York City Ballet principal Ashley Bouder called for continued conversation:
Choreographer Matthew Bourne posed a small step towards gender equality:
Dance critic Leigh Witchel made a very reasonable suggestion:
Choreographer and Ballez founder Katy Pyle had a dark take:
Former NYCB and ABT dancer Robert La Fosse called out another issue:
Dance writer Marina Harss brought the specifics of Ratmansky's choreography into the mix:
Dance scholar Seth Williams gave us the historical perspective:
Tap dancer and 2012 25 to Watcher Caleb Teicher added some intelligent context:
Our take? Here are the main problems we saw with the post:
1. The implication that his definition of ballet is the end-all be-all. If Ratmansky doesn't want women to lift or men to dance on pointe in his ballets, fine. You do you. But his tone suggests that no one should be experimenting with gender roles in ballet. (Coincidentally or not, this post comes right after a slew of positive reviews for the same-sex partnering in New York City Ballet's recent program of new works).
2. His tone-deaf use of the word "equality." He's specifically talking about roles for dancers onstage. But as someone who has already been called out for his ambivalence towards the lack of women choreographers in ballet, who has been criticized for racism in his work and for making insensitive comments about race, and whose career could be seen as benefitting from the gender inequality in the dance world, his word choice is super loaded.
3. His staunch insistence on traditional gender roles. The dance world should be doing everything it can to include dancers of all gender identities. As one of today's most high-profile choreographers, his borderline-transphobic words send the message that only certain types of people are welcome in ballet.
What do you think of Ratmansky's comments?