Dancing up the Glass Elevator
Late last year, I had the opportunity to go to Stanford and take a couple classes offered in the Stanford Splash Program. One class that I really enjoyed was called Dancing Up the Glass Escalator, in which we explored gender inequality in ballet.
Studies show that in large companies there are very few women choreographers and directors. This may seem odd because ballet is commonly associated with being a sport dominated by women. One article from New York Times called “Breaking the Glass Slipper: Where are the Female Choreographers” revealed that in the 58 ballets performed by the New York City Ballet in the summer season of 2016 none were choreographed by a woman. This same article goes on to mention how the English National Ballet and the Royal Ballet made a point of presenting works by women, however, they were performed in smaller theaters and given less attention. Even in contemporary ballet, men are still more likely to have their pieces staged than women. It is important to note that contemporary ballet was pioneered by and the movement was practically built by female artists.
Another article from Oxford Journals named “The Glass Escalator: Hidden Advantages for Men in the “Female” Professions” gives a thorough analysis of the opportunities for men in predominantly female professions. This article aims to expose how men are quickly able to move up the ranks. One male teacher claims that he was being pressured to move into administration despite his wishes to remain a teacher. This is also evident in the ballet world. Men are more likely to receive scholarships for ballet programs and are pushed up the hierarchical ranks of the ballet ladder. Much like how male nurses are encouraged to become doctors, male dancers are urged to become choreographers and directors. Women do not usually receive this same encouragement, which results in this gender inequality.
Recently, however, many large companies have been making an effort to promote female choreographers and present their pieces with substantial advertising.