Where are all the female chorographers?

This is a piece I have written for my Gold arts award, the question I have chosen is Where are all the female Chorographers?

For my Art issue I set out to research where are all the female chorographers? I choose this topic as I feel really strongly about it, as I personally really like choreographing and I feel like there are not enough females at the top of the profession. There are more females than male dancers so why does it seem like there are more men at the top of the profession? I read an article on One Dance UK and the point that really stood out to me was “is there a bias against woman in the dance world”, this quote was by a woman called Wendy perron. This stood out to me the most, as there are few men who do dance from a young age but it mainly consists of woman. Because there are so many women who dance I think that gets mistaken for who choregraphs it. The higher up the profession the less woman you see. I personally agree with this, as you don’t see that many female chorographers especially at the top, but I do think the male chorographers at the top do deserve to be there.

I think this is about gender in dance. More females should mean more female chorographers. Reality doesn’t reflect this, London’s Royal Ballet for example, only 2 out of 16 chorographers are female, and is the same in so many companies. Men are at the top which unfortunately happens in most industries. But this can be changed in so many ways. There’s a website called ‘Website the table.org.uk’ and its all about collecting woman’s voices and what they think of it all, it discusses things like inequality and feminism, it captures the conversations which then allows websites like One Dance UK to announce what everyone is feeling about the situation. I personally think this is a good idea as not many people will go to talks about feminism, but they might sit down for 5 minute and answer a questionnaire on what they think. It gets more people involved and allows men to have the opportunity to say what they think to. A woman called stephanie woodard wrote a study which said, “I have never heard a male chorographer promote a female chorographer”. I agree with this statement because as dance as a whole I feel like all dancers/practitioners should back up each other as the dance world should be evolving and getting better all the time. However, I disagree with this because I don’t think they should need to, why should one company advertise another? This is the mind-set companies have but we need to change this because I believe it will help move the dance industry further.

I found an interview on One Dance UK, which questioned whether female chorographers are being side-lined and describe their work as them promoting equal chorographic opportunities. “A few months ago, as dance companies started to announce their 2016-17 seasons, I began keeping track of the gender ratio of each program. The Paris Opera Ballet is featuring the work of 24 choreographers; only one of them is a woman.” This was published quite recently, which means it’s more reliable. It reflected on what I expected as it backed up my other research.

She also said about a website they use which allows the public to post their views on what they think about female chorographers, which I thought was very handy as it was easy to get to and there was loads of views on their from different people. One of which was this was “At 42, I can say that I am an established choreographer. It might have taken me longer then my male colleagues but I believe that art needs not just craftsmanship but maturity”. I think that this is great because it shows that if you try hard enough you can become a choreographer, even if you’re a female. This gives me hope that I can do something with dance in the future. 

I carried out some of my own research by interviewing five people two girls and three boys. I asked them six questions about what they thought about female chorographers, I also asked them to list five chorographers, the majority of the list were male which indicates there are more successful male chorographers. I also gave them a quote which said “The higher up the ladder you go the less woman you see”. I got this from an interview which was from the website called one dance UK and was said by Charlotte Vincent, this suggests there are more girls than boys who dance. As you go higher up the profession the females seem to just disappear, all the people that I interviewed agreed with this statement. I learned that when I asked the men they were more bias even though they agreed with the statement they were more with the men, whereas the girls were understanding of both sides. For example, the majority of people I asked were mainly boys because I wanted to get an insight into what they thought as there the people who would most likely disagree. When I asked them to name 5 chorographers all of them named 5 male chorographers, but the girls listed at least 2. 

My research hasn’t changed my views however there are now things I agree and disagree with. I feel like there should be more female chorographers at the top, but I still think that the men that are at the top do deserve to be there as their work is amazing. The top male chorographers are Wayne McGregor, Mathew Bourne, Hofesh Schector, Michael Clark etc. the top female chorographers are Martha graham, Jasmine Vardimon etc. 

The interview that I looked at I mostly agreed with, but I also disagreed with some of it as they were mainly stating all the male chorographers are at the top, I know this because it says “big chorographers such as Wayne McGregor, Mathew Bourne, Hofesh Schector, Michael Clark, and all the ballet boys who still dominate our stages”. When she mentioned this, it proves my question that there are more male choreographers, as they are at the top because people like their work that’s why they get loads of people coming to their shows they won’t come if they didn’t like it. I want there to be more female chorographers, but I don’t want females to despise other chorographers just because there isn’t any. 

I don’t think it matters that there are more males than female chorographers, it would just be nice to see more females at the top. There’s a quote from Ballet BC “the most important thing is a person, an artist, a human being”.

This is a user generated post from our Arts Award on Voice community and was not edited by the Voice team. We would love to hear your views too! Sign up for an account and make your Voice heard!


holly warrener

holly warrener

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  • Emma Del'Nero Williams

    On 8 November 2018, 15:08 Emma Del'Nero Williams commented:

    I agree that there seems to be more men at the top of the profession and unfortunately this is the case in most professions. We are still working towards equality in this area and Choreography is no different. I think you made this point well and found some different sources to back it up. I was a little confused about the results of your survey. You said that the males were bias but didn't go on to explain in what way. I agree that those successful male choreographers deserve credit for their work but at the same time why are female Choreographers not given the same opportunities and platforms?

  • Bee Snellen

    On 8 November 2018, 16:55 Bee Snellen Voice Team commented:

    Hi Holly! We recommend adding an image to your article, because it will complement your text.

    I hadn't realised that there were less female choreographers. I mistakenly believed that, as there are a lot of female dancers, there would be a lot of female choreographers as well. Do you think this is because female choreographers do not get the same opportunities as men, or do you believe that there is a bias against women being in a "leader" type position in the dance industry?

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