There’s Change A Coming To The Dance World. Have You Felt It?

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There’s something like a buzz, like a swarm of far off bees or insects that you can faintly hear, but can’t see. Or a tide, coming in strong from way off on the horizon that looks small from far off, but gains strength and power the closer it comes to shore. An excitement building, teetering on the edge of discomfort, like being at the top of a roller coaster, waiting for the deep plunge and rush that momentum brings.

These are all things I’d use to describe the shift I feel is been coming our way. There’s been a call for voices that have previously gone unheard to share their stories. There’s been a demand for more equality, transparency, and an admiration for honesty and inclusivity.

In short, there’s a demand for the things that the dance world has long swept under the rug and or found difficult to address and change.

Don’t believe me? Let’s take a look at some interest recent events:

Dance Magazine’s website now has article categories for “Breaking Stereotypes”, “Dance As Activism” front and centre on their main menu.

NYCB Ballerina Wendy Whelan talks candidly in the 2016 documentary Restless Creature about her fears about ageing in the ballet world and showed us how brutal the dance world can be to dancers who are perceived as ‘past their prime’.

Misty Copeland, Michaela dePrince, Olivia Boisson, and Dara Holmes, all ballerinas of colour are finally being recognised not only in the media, but with promotions and advances in their respective companies.

The public is now more aware that dancers like Lauren Anderson, Raven Wilkinson and Debra Austin helped pave the way for ballerinas of colour like the women mentioned above.

Videos have gone viral featuring dancers like Lizzy Howell and Erik Cavanaugh, prompting a huge show of support from the public for dancers who don’t have a ‘dancer’s body’.

Body Positivity is a trending phrase online, in books and in forums, and there’s even a class designed specifically to encourage dancers and dance teachers to bring body positivity into the dance classroom.

And these are just a few examples! With all this change swirling around the dance community, it will be interesting to see who embraces these calls for change, and how, but you can bet that change is a coming.

We’re already seeing the momentum gathering, and I have a feeling the downhill ride of this roller coaster could give us some amazing new views.

By Katrena Cohea