Is Ballet's Next Step More Female Partnering?

September 20, 2017

Royal Ballet dancers Yasmine Naghdi and Beatriz Stix-Brunell recently got together for a different kind of performance: no decadent costumes, sets, stage makeup or lighting. Instead, the principal and first soloist danced choreography by principal character artist Kristen McNally in a stark studio.

The movement is crystal clear, and at the beginning, Naghdi and Stix-Brunell duck and weave around each other with near vacant stares. Do they even know they have a partner? And how should they interact? The situation raises a much larger question: How often do we see a female duet in ballet?

The short video, directed by Andrew Margetson for CNN Style, will hopefully spark conversation from another branch of the women-in-ballet debate. Yes, women have assumed more leadership as artistic directors and their work is (slowly) starting to appear in more main stage performances. But what about the company dancers themselves? Rarely do we see two women take the stage together for significant portions of choreography. And even more rarely do we see them partner each other.

While Duet is a step in the right direction, we think the ballet world is ready for more. We’re not clamoring for a marathon of press lifts, but female ballet dancers can certainly support each other’s weight. When it comes to their strength, we don’t have any reservations.