This Choreographer Just Said "There Is No Such Thing As Equality in Ballet" And He's "Very Comfortable With That"
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?
Just hearing the word "improvisation" is enough to make some ballet dancers shake in their pointe shoes. But for Chantelle Pianetta, it's a practice she relishes. Depending on the weekend, you might find her gracing Bay Area stages as a principal with Menlowe Ballet or sweeping in awards at West Coast swing competitions.
She specializes in Jack and Jill events, which involve improvised swing dancing with an unexpected partner in front of a panel of judges. (Check her out in action below.) While sustaining her ballet career, over the past four years Pianetta has quickly risen from novice to champion level on the WCS international competition circuit.
Sean Dorsey was always going to be an activist. Growing up in a politically engaged, progressive family in Vancouver, British Columbia, "it was my heart's desire to create change in the world," he says. Far less certain was his future as a dancer.
Like many dancers, Dorsey fell in love with movement as a toddler. However, he didn't identify strongly with any particular gender growing up. Dorsey, who now identifies as trans, says, "I didn't see a single person like me anywhere in the modern dance world." The lack of trans role models and teachers, let alone all-gender studio facilities where he could feel safe and welcome, "meant that even in my wildest dreams, there was no room for that possibility."
It's hour three of an intense rehearsal, you're feeling mentally foggy and exhausted, and your stomach hurts. Did you know the culprit could be something as simple as dehydration?
Proper hydration helps maintain physical and mental function while you're dancing, and keeps your energy levels high. But with so many products on the market promising to help you rehydrate more effectively, how do you know when it's time to reach for more than water?