It’s not the first time the question’s been asked and it certainly won’t be the last, but why aren’t there more women choreographers at the top of the dance world? The person doing the asking this time round is Holly Noble, co-founder of the Female Choreographers Collective (FCC). Noble, who runs her own company, AD Dance, has watched over the years as her male contemporaries’ careers have soared and the women have sunk without a trace. And she wants to know why.
There are, of course, successful female choreographers, but they are easily outnumbered by men in the upper ranks. In ballet, women are particularly sparse. The last woman the Royal Ballet commissioned for their main stage was Siobhan Davies in 1999. That wasn’t even this century.
It’s a story that’s repeated across most industries, and compared with, say, the board of a FTSE 100 company, there are actually a lot of women in the dance world as a whole. ‘Women run the dance world,’ says Noble, at least when it comes to administration, education, producing and even directing companies. So why can’t they actually make the steps?
‘My views might not be what people want to hear,’ says Noble. ‘Women don’t help other women.’ She thinks intensely competitive dance training destroys any sense of sisterhood, but she’s not out to apportion blame. ‘We may upset some people, unintentionally,’ says Noble, but the idea is to get people talking and the FCC is opening the debate this week with ‘The Experiment’, where the audience will watch six anonymous pieces of work without knowing the creators’ genders.
Realistically, it’s not the audience that will have the real answers, but this event is a warm-up for a bigger debate later in the year. We’ll be following their findings. Just don’t say ‘Girl Power’.