To the Female Choreographers’ Collective programme “The Experiment” at the Laban Theatre last Tuesday 23rd April.  FCC’s Holly Noble and Jane Coulston convened a programme of six works, three by male choreographers and three by female, to be anonymously performed, to test the hypothesis that choreographic work is influenced by gender, and to discover if there might be any bias in the audience towards male and female authored works.  The audience filled in anonymous questionnaires about their dance viewing habits and impressions of the works being presented.

The curious can now find out the identities of the featured artists which have been revealed on the FCC website:
http://www.the-fcc.org.uk/the-experiment.html

A substantial labour of data analysis now lies ahead for the FCC to discover what their lively audience made of the evening; however some forthright comments have already been posted about it on online dance magazine Bellyflop:

http://www.bellyflopmag.com/reviews/female-choreographers-collective-experiment

Meanwhile the debate about sexism in dance and the invisibility of work by female choreographers has now reached beyond the confines of the dance world thanks to a powerful article by Observer dance critic Luke Jennings:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/stage/2013/apr/28/women-choreographers-glass-ceiling

Scroll down after reading to a succession of thoughtful and passionate postings in response… Add you own or post a comment about this here on Oxford Dance Writers…

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Last November, Josephine Jewkes’ description of the Boys in Action project in the Dancing Times made interesting reading beside Luke Jennings’ comments in the Observer on the “all-male creative stranglehold” on the Royal Ballet, and his statement:  “It’s a dismaying fact, but no female choreographer has been commissioned to create a ballet on the Covent Garden main stage for more than a decade now.”

When boys are so reluctant to take up dance, particularly ballet, and girls outnumber boys in most ballet classes, why are men so much more successful in gaining recognition as ballet choreographers? (more…)

After a summer of invisible dance here in Oxford (see The summer of big and small) autumn arrived with some unexpected riches.  Good things in small packages were a couple of classy programmes of dance at the Burton Taylor Studio; the mesmerising Aakash Odedra in Rising, and the very likeable Yorke Dance Project. Before that Candoco at the Playhouse were inspiring and exemplary in performance of a richly varied triple bill of works by Javier de Frutos, Wendy Houston and Trisha Brown, whose Set and Reset was reset specially for the company, marking its 20th birthday.

But I was saddened and puzzled by the small audiences for these high quality and thoroughly enjoyable live dance shows. (more…)

Last Sunday’s Observer magazine carried an article by dance critic Luke Jennings about young dancers at the Royal Ballet Lower and Upper Schools.  His contention is that the number of British born and trained dancers graduating from the Royal Ballet School into the Royal Ballet Company is diminishing annually. Of the talented and dedicated young dancers entering the School at 11 years old, the majority will be progressively assessed out, the number of places squeezed as they are increasingly joined by young dancers from overseas.  Of those British dancers who do succeed in winning a Royal Ballet contract few seem to make it to the top as principal dancers in starring roles.

Uncomfortable questions arise from these stark facts – about training methods and schooling, but also as to what companies are looking for in today’s international market.  What effect does such ruthless selection have on the cream of British ballet talent during and after the training process?  How important is it to develop a distinctive home-grown British style and dancers?  And ultimately what is the argument for taxpayer support if British children have such statistically slim chances of making it into the national companies?

To read Luke Jennings’ thought provoking article and some passionate discussion emerging from it:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/stage/2012/mar/25/will-they-make-royal-ballet