Ballet IS Woman Symposium

March 7th 2021

MoBBallet will present the Ballet IS Woman Symposium. Riffing off the well known Balanchine quote, we take a moment to look at the multidimensional roles women are playing in the field today, presenting the spectrum of women in ballet, from leadership to motherhood. Join us for discussions with female artistic and executive directors and mothers on stage as we unpack the complexity of a woman’s place in ballet.


Female artistic directors discuss their roles in leadership. Balanchine said “Ballet is woman.” Men have long been the chief gatekeepers of the form, but things are changing. Meet some of the women who have risen through the company ranks to become principal dancers, icons in the field, and reside at the pinnacle of the hierarchy as artistic directors of ballet companies. Learn how their experiences as women in ballet inform their leadership, particularly when addressing major issues that are shifting the field: diversity, representation, aesthetics, and a call for cultural reform.
Panelists: Tamara Rojo (English National Ballet), Virginia Johnson (Dance Theatre of Harlem), Susan Jaffe (Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre), Julie Kent (Washington Ballet), Lourdes Lopez (Miami City Ballet), Wendy Whelan (New York City Ballet)


Join MoBBallet for a dynamic conversation with female executive directors, discussing their roles as leaders in a field that places the ballerina on a pedestal but is controlled by men. We hear from women who, in the best of times and the worst, keep the lights on, keep the dancers paid, manage the unions and the board of directors, and—in a time of great instability—navigate the issues of the field: representation, diversity, and the call for cultural reform. As companies are losing millions in revenue due to the global pandemic, how are they working to steady the ship? Additionally, they speak about holding the space of power in a time when the very concept of leadership is being redefined to encompass the characteristics of inclusiveness and altruism.
Panelists to date: Ellen Walker (Pacific Northwest Ballet), Vanessa Logan (Texas Ballet Theater), Kathy Brown (New York City Ballet), Kara Medoff Barnett (American Ballet Theatre), Max Hodges (Boston Ballet), Kelly Tweeddale (San Francisco Ballet)


Real talk with female dancers who have become mothers and continued to dance. Unlike their male counterparts, this is not only a life changing decision but a body-altering one. Dancing mothers speak about what having a child and a full career means, including the toll it takes on their bodies during and after pregnancy, the support or lack there of from their artistic directors and staff, touring with (or without) a child, the pressures to be fully present as a dancer and a mother, how motherhood affected their artistry, and what needs to change in the culture to support the choice of motherhood in companies.
This will be an open forum, but, to be sure that those who would like to share are heard, please request your time at the podium when you register. As always, MoBBallet a space that centers Blackness and welcomes everyone!