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By Wendy Perron
Women and leadership. Women and ballet. Women and men. Women and women. Women and nature. Each pairing suggests different realms in which dancers are defying stereotypes. And we’ve tried to cover it all in our first Women’s Issue.
At the prow of this ship of female power, we have a great ballerina who has just embarked on a journey of leadership at English National Ballet. Tamara Rojo, a dazzling performer who is both strong and feminine onstage, has been interested in becoming an artistic director for a long time. It’s not every brilliant ballerina who dares to think of herself as an artistic director. In Margaret Willis’ story “In Charge,” we find out that this job didn’t just fall into her lap: She took steps to prepare herself for such a leap.
Strength on pointe: Don’t mess with Rojo! Photo by Matthew Karas.
Plenty of other women in dance have taken such leaps. In “Nine Who Dared,” we profile women who defy stereotypes in ingenious ways. From Amy Seiwert, who has created a forum for women choreographers in ballet, to Deborah Lohse, who has found more freedom after coming out; from Charlotte Vincent, who insists on childcare for her women dancers, to Nora Chipaumire, whose powerful body is decidedly unfeminine onstage; from Anna Halprin’s love of nature to Jin Xing, a transgendered choreographer in China; from Sheetal Gandhi, who weaves stories of oppression of Indian women into her dance theater works, to the “too tall” Haley Henderson Smith, who feels empowered dancing with her even taller husband. And for sheer fun, we learn how Nicole Wolcott turned her baby bump into a disco ball. The only thing they all have in common is the imagination to expand what women dancers can be and do.
To complete our Women’s Issue we have a “Your Body” on how to get your dancer self back after pregnancy, and a “Centerwork” on women in the male-dominated hip-hop scene. Our back-page “Why I Choreograph” is written by Cynthia Oliver, another woman with a strong voice, stemming from her mix of Caribbean and American influences.
So, ladies and gentlemen, I hope you enjoy the range we’ve brought to this issue. And don’t hesitate to contact me with your responses and ideas for future subjects.
Headshot of Wendy Perron by Matthew Karas.