Because the dance is a “elitist white art form” that discriminates against other groups, a top dancing school in the United Kingdom has abandoned ballet. The decision of the Northern School of Contemporary Dance to “decolonize the curriculum” by eliminating a well-known dance style that thousands of people do every year has shocked the dance world.
According to the head of school in Leeds, ballet would no longer be offered at auditions because of the expense of learning a dance style and its emphasis on an unhealthy female body shape as well as gender-divided responsibilities.
“Ballet is an elitist art form,” stated Francesca McCarthy, the conservatory’s head of undergraduate studies. She went on to say that ballet has “strongly gendered roots” and became “problematic in relation to the inclusion of non-binary and trans dancers.”
The school’s ballet program will no longer be part of the audition, but it will still be taught. British students who wish to improve their dancing skills pay a yearly entrance fee of $11,000 and international students who want to master their dancing abilities must pay around $20,400 per year.
While the school will continue to educate its brilliant dancers, it is taking a fresh approach. Teachers are striving to make ballet more “inclusive” for all dancers who enroll at the school.
“There are issues relating to body, money, language, and movement vocabulary,” McCarthy said.
Ballet lessons are quite costly for pupils. For those who suffer from varying levels of poverty, they might be prohibitively expensive. And too frequently, ballet classes offer greater chances for white students than comparable black children.
The Northern School of Contemporary Dance also aims to make its ballet lessons more gender inclusive.
“There was a shift to ladies and gentleman over time, but this is still problematic in relation to the inclusion of non-binary and trans dancers,” McCarthy continued.
Ms. McCarthy is also a family woman. She has a “wonderful wife” and two adopted sons, as well as a “wonderful” partner. Her lesbian partner has aided her in becoming more aware of the “challenges experienced by young people today,” according to which the Leeds dance school urges teachers and officials to use gender-inclusive phrases such as “dancers/people/folks/everybody/everyone.”
The changes arrive as the ballet world tries to figure out how to make the centuries-old dance form more open. Last year, New York City’s American Ballet Theater announced that it would be employing its first “black female principal dancer” in the company’s history.
The decision by the Leeds-based ballet school to cease holding auditions has provoked a variety of responses on social media. Some people are in favor of it, while others claim it is “elitist” and “divisive.”
What are your thoughts about the decision to terminate ballet lessons at the Northern School of Contemporary Dance? Is it a step in the proper direction or elitist and exclusive?