For years, we've been wrestling with the relative lack of female ballet directors. When women make up the majority of the companies' dancers, why are they so underrepresented in the troupes' leadership? Aside from a few longtime females at the helm—Richmond Ballet's Stoner Winslett and Ballet Memphis' Dorothy Gunther Pugh, for instance—there aren't too many examples of ballerinas who went on to lead from the front of the room.

But a few years ago, it seemed like things started to change. 2012 marked the appointment of two major dancers as directors. Tamara Rojo left The Royal Ballet as a dancer to lead and dance at English National Ballet, and Lourdes Lopez took the reigns at Miami City Ballet. Then, just last month, The Washington Ballet announced that former American Ballet Theatre star Julie Kent will come on board in July. Talk about a fantastic trio of women.

Charlotte Ballet's incoming artistic director Hope Muir. Photo by Rimbaud Patron, Courtesy Charlotte Ballet.

Now, Charlotte Ballet has appointed Hope Muir as its next director, following Jean-Pierre Bonnefoux's retirement at the end of the 2016–17 season. Although her name may not instantly ring a bell with American ballet fans, the Canadian-born Muir certainly has the professional chops and a range of experience that will benefit Charlotte Ballet. As a performer, she danced with English National Ballet, Rambert Dance Company and Hubbard Street Dance Chicago. She's also staged work for the likes of Crystal Pite and Helen Pickett, and is currently the assistant artistic director of the Scottish Ballet.

In a press release from Charlotte Ballet, Muir said, “I plan to draw on my vast international experience and network of choreographers, directors and designers to develop and enhance the company’s unique identity. I’m passionate about the nurturing of young talent from Charlotte and abroad, as well as collaboration with like-minded companies and artists. I envision a pioneering and innovative future for Charlotte Ballet in the U.S. and abroad.”

Looking back on the past few years, it seems like the ballet world is finally taking concrete steps to welcome more females as directors. What's behind the trend? Stay tuned for our Feminist Issue in July to find out more and read about women's unique perspective as leaders.

 

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Clockwise from top left: Photo by Loreto Jamlig, Courtesy Ladies of Hip-Hop; Wikimedia Commons; Photo by Alexander Iziliaev, Courtesy Pennsylvania Ballet; Natasha Razina, Courtesy State Academic Mariinsky Theatre; Photo by Will Mayer for Better Half Productions, Courtesy ABT

The 10 Biggest Dance Stories of 2019

What were the dance moments that defined 2019? The stories that kept us talking, week after week? According to our top-clicked articles of the year, they ranged from explorations of dance medicine and dance history, takedowns of Lara Spencer and companies who still charge dancers to audition, and, of course, our list of expert tips on how to succeed in dance today.

We compiled our 10 biggest hits of the year, and broke down why we think they struck a chord:

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Christopher Duggan, Courtesy Nichols

I Am a Black Dancer Who Was Dressed Up in Blackface to Perform in La Bayadère

On Instagram this week, Misty Copeland reposted a picture of two Russian ballerinas covered head to toe in black, exposing the Bolshoi's practice of using blackface in the classical ballet La Bayadère. The post has already received over 60,000 likes and 2,000 comments, starting a long overdue conversation.

Comments have been pouring in from every angle imaginable: from history lessons on black face, to people outside of the ballet world expressing disbelief that this happens in 2019, to castigations of Copeland for exposing these young girls to the line of fire for what is ultimately the Bolshoi's costuming choice, to the accusations that the girls—no matter their cultural competence—should have known better.

I am a black dancer, and in 2003, when I was 11 years old, I was dressed up in blackface to perform in the Mariinsky Ballet's production of La Bayadère.

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Here's the First Trailer for the "In the Heights" Movie

Lights up on Washington Heights—because the trailer for the movie adaptation of the hit Broadway musical In the Heights has arrived. It's our first look into Lin-Manuel Miranda's latest venture into film—because LMM isn't stopping at three Tony awards, a Grammy award, and an Emmy.

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