Rant & Rave

Twitter Thinks Ads For This Dance Show Are "Adult Sexual Content"

These days, social media is an essential tool for dance companies looking to promote their work. Karole Armitage's company, Armitage Gone! Dance, recently posted ads for their upcoming show at New York Live Arts, You Took A Part Of Me, a "mysterious and hypnotic display of erotic entanglement and unresolved attachment" inspired by traditional Japanese Noh drama.


But Facebook, Instagram and Twitter have blocked the company from posting images and videos promoting the work, labeling them as "adult sexual content." The company's Twitter ads account has been suspended indefinitely, despite multiple appeals.

Here is one of the images in question:

While Facebook and Twitter have strict rules for advertisements and boosted posts, Armitage's company says that even their organic posts promoting the show are being censored.

Twitter's Adult Sexual Content policy includes "nudity, partial nudity, sexual aids and toys, as well as adult/sexual language, video and images." Facebook maintains that their nudity policy "has become more nuanced over time," and that they "understand that nudity can be shared for a variety of reasons, including as a form of protest, to raise awareness about a cause, or for educational or medical reasons. Where such intent is clear, we make allowances for the content." They say that nudity in a painting or a sculpture is allowed—why should a dance performance be different?

Not to mention the fact that the dancers aren't even nude. In most of the censored images and videos, they are wearing beige leotards with two horizontal black stripes.

It should be obvious to anyone who looks at them that these images and videos don't belong in the same category as pornography. Besides the fact that they aren't even sexually explicit, they depict, as Armitage Gone! puts it, "a sophisticated production with high artistic value."

It seems whoever is making these decisions can't see past the sensuality to the art. This, unfortunately, tracks with how dance and dancers have long been sexualized, especially when viewed through the male gaze.

There's nothing new about artists being censored, either. But for a small dance company trying to fill seats, it has real and potentially damaging consequences.

Without being able to post content from their show on social media, Armitage Gone! has taken a new promotional tactic: Rallying their supporters around the injustice of their work being censored.

The company is encouraging audiences to share their posts to raise awareness about censorship in the arts—and, of course, to show support by attending the upcoming show.

Broadway

We knew that Ivo van Hove and Anne Teresa de Keersmaeker's production of West Side Story would challenge our preconceived notions about the show.

But a recent Vogue story gives us a taste of just how nontraditional the Broadway revival will be. Most notably, van Hove is cutting "I Feel Pretty" and the "Somewhere" ballet, condensing the show into one act to better reflect the urgency of the 48-hour plot. (The choice has been approved by the West Side Story estate, including Sondheim, who has "long been uncomfortable" with some of the "I Feel Pretty" lyrics.)

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Sponsored by NYCDA
Ailey II artistic director Troy Powell teaching an Ailey Workshop at NYCDA. Courtesy NYCDA

Back in 2011 when Joe Lanteri first approached Katie Langan, chair of Marymount Manhattan College's dance department, about getting involved with New York City Dance Alliance, she was skeptical about the convention/competition world.

"But I was pleasantly surprised by the enormity of talent that was there," she says. "His goal was to start scholarship opportunities, and I said okay, I'm in."

Today, it's fair to say that Lanteri has far surpassed his goal of creating scholarship opportunities. But NYCDA has done so much more, bridging the gap between the convention world and the professional world by forging a wealth of partnerships with dance institutions from Marymount to The Ailey School to Complexions Contemporary Ballet and many more. There's a reason these companies and schools—some of whom otherwise may not see themselves as aligned with the convention/competition world—keep deepening their relationships with NYCDA.

Now, college scholarships are just one of many ways NYCDA has gone beyond the typical weekend-long convention experience and created life-changing opportunities for students. We rounded up some of the most notable ones:

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Cover Story
Jayme Thornton

It's a much-repeated part of Francesca Hayward's origin story that she discovered ballet at age 3, when her grandparents bought a video of The Nutcracker to keep her occupied and she immediately started dancing around the room. What's less well-known is that there was another video lined up next to The Nutcracker that Hayward liked to dance along to: Cats. "I really just did the White Cat bit and fast-forwarded the rest," she remembers. "I'd make my friends who came around be the other cats."

Twenty-four years later, she's not only become a Royal Ballet principal, but has been cast as Victoria the White Cat in Tom Hooper's new movie adaptation of the Andrew Lloyd Webber musical, out in theaters on December 20. "I remember the director telling me I'd got the part: 'Just to let you know you're the lead in a Hollywood film,' he said." Hayward laughs. "This is crazy!"

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Sponsored by Harlequin Floors
Left: Hurricane Harvey damage in Houston Ballet's Dance Lab; Courtesy Harlequin. Right: The Dance Lab pre-Harvey; Nic Lehoux, Courtesy Houston Ballet.

"The show must go on" may be a platitude we use to get through everything from costume malfunctions to stormy moods. But when it came to overcoming a literal hurricane, Houston Ballet was buoyed by this mantra to go from devastated to dancing in a matter of weeks—with the help of Harlequin Floors, Houston Ballet's longstanding partner who sprang into action to build new floors in record time.

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