"A leading dance school has said that ballet is racially problematic and too gender binary."
"The Northern School of Contemporary Dance (NSCD) said it had reviewed the “elitist” and “potentially contentious” art form as part of a diversity drive. Proficiency in ballet was dropped as an entry requirement because it is rooted in “white European ideas” and splits dancers along gender lines."
I find the phrase 'rooted in “white European ideas”' provocative as we are in Europe so doing European dances is expected. The idea of restricting ourselves to only doing dances from outside Europe is ridiculous.
Clearly it's a hot potato of an issue! A judgment upon ballet from within the ranks of a dance school fed by hundreds of traditional ballet classes.
Elitist? I don't know about that. Many of the people I've met over the years who've learnt ballet as a child haven't come from privileged backgrounds. I think the elitism is at the performance end of the system where government sponsors ballet and opera for no good reason other than some inter-country status symbol, and fair dos, it's far cheaper to maintain a ballet company than an aircraft carrier!
Ballet has it's roots in the French royal courts but so were the string instruments such as the violin and cello. Are they elitist too?
Ballet is predominantly white. Ballet black and Carlos Acosta don't even begin to balance the scales on that one! I'm not comfortable with this on any level, the racial barriers play out in every aspect of our society and they need challenging in every aspect of our society. If we can't fix dance, then how can we expect to fix policing?
So that's me on my soap box achieving nothing!
The issues are deep and complex and I respect the NSCD for taking action to try to tackle these issues, and wish them luck. My response is simple. It's hard to change something that's established but it's far easier to to establish something new.
Mambalsa is a partner dance form that has respect as part of its' ethos and when you unpack respect it's impossible to argue for disrespecting any one or any part of society.
Mambalsa is also relational, where empathy requires an interest and inquiry of your partner. Any pigeonholing of your partner creates an assumptive barrier restricting empathy and therefore collective Flow.h
We therefore arrive at a place of inclusion not exclusion. That doesn't make everyone a right-on politically correct zealot of woke-ism. Just a bunch of ordinary, curious people who accept the world isn't perfect and want to dance within a movement that's heading in the right direction.