If you hadn't heard of inclusion riders before Sunday night, you've almost certainly heard of them now.
At the Oscars, Best Actress winner Frances McDormand ended her speech with: "I have two words to leave with you tonight, ladies and gentlemen: inclusion rider."
Since then, everyone has been talking about the term: What does it mean? Could it actually be implemented?
Basically, an inclusion rider can be added to an actor's contract, and can demand that a proportionate number of women, people of color, LGBTQ individuals and people with disabilities be reflected in the cast and/or crew. The thinking is that actors (or hypothetically directors, cinematographers, etc) with enough clout have the power to shape their films to be more equitable. Some actors have already committed to demanding inclusion riders for their films.
Would inclusion riders ever work in the dance world? It's no secret that we desperately need more equity and accountability in the field. But sadly dancers usually don't have the negotiating power that A-list actors do.
That doesn't mean the dance world's power players shouldn't be advocating for more equity in their projects, though. In-demand choreographers (we're mostly looking at you, white men) can insist that their work is programmed alongside that of women and people of color. Star dancers on the gala circuit could potentially use the inclusion rider model, too.
How do you think inclusion riders could be implemented in the dance world? Let us know in the comments.
James Whiteside (Jayme Thornton for Dance Magazine)
Say you're perpetually impeccable designer Thom Browne. Say you're planning your Spring 2020 Paris menswear show along a "Versailles country club" theme. Say you want a world-class danseur to open the show with some kind of appropriately fabulous choreography.
Who do you call? James Whiteside, of course. On Saturday, the American Ballet Theatre principal—wearing pointe shoes and a glorious pinstriped tutu—kicked off Browne's presentation at the École des Beaux-Arts with a 15-minute, show-stealing solo. Whiteside choreographed the piece himself, with the help of detailed notes from the designer.
I'd been a professional dancer for five years when I realized the pain I'd been feeling in my hip and down my sciatic nerve was not going away. I had been treating it for two years as we dancers do—with regular visits to my masseuse, physical therapy, baths, ice and lots of Aleve—but I never stopped dancing. It finally dawned on me that if I kept going at the speed I was going (which was, well, speedy), the pain would only get more severe and unrelenting, and I might never dance again.
I told myself I'd take two months off, and all would be better.
That first morning when I woke up at 10 am, I had no idea what to do with myself. My life until that moment had been dictated by class and rehearsal, every hour accounted for. How should I fill the huge swath of time ahead of me?