This is a wonderful time of year to be a Black woman. Moving from the richness of Black History Month into the elegance of Women’s History Month is a feeling unmatched. I hope all Black women at this time, and every other time, are feeling celebrated.
On this Women’s History Month, I’m thinking of the women in dance who hold leadership positions. The women who run companies, studios, and head collegiate dance departments. This is incredibly special to me.
Something that has always stood out to me, is the fact that most leadership positions in the dance industry are held by men. This is no different from any other industry. It makes sense, considering that we do live in a patriarchal society. But for dance, I’ve always found that a bit weird because men are the minority. More women pursue dance than men both recreationally and professionally. When you look at the demographics of most companies, you see far more women. So why is it that so many artistic directors and choreographers happen to be men?
To be clear, I’m not against men holding leadership positions in dance. There have been several men who’ve been largely influential in my own dance education and I am very grateful to them. It’s just that as women, we regularly move through a world where we are smaller. Men are the head of things and make the big decisions. So it would be exciting to enter a field where women dominate and are leading the charge. To come into the dance world and find that it looks the same as every other industry in our patriarchal society is disappointing.
I don’t know how exactly we got here, but I can imagine. I’m sure it came from many moments of not taking women seriously, undervaluing their contributions, and taking ownership of their ideas. During this Women’s History Month, let’s celebrate the women who were able to push through those moments and make their mark. Let’s also hold space in our hearts for the women who were effectively silenced and whose work we’ll never know. And may we continue to uplift the women who continue to make history in the dance world today.