Reader Tonya Plank: claims of sexism in the dance world not off-the-wall


Well, I think it’s very cordial of John Rockwell to respond. It’s nice to know that claims of sexism are taken seriously by the powers that be! That’s what struck me most about your post — the overall sentiment that there are few women in positions of power in the dance world. Recently, a NYCB patron asked during a First Position discussion why the company had produced little to no ballets by women during its recent Diamond Projects.
And Clive Barnes wrote a piece in Dance Magazine several months ago about how women dancemakers are having a harder time of it — an issue also addressed briefly during one of the pre-performance panel discussions at City Center’s Fall For Dance festival. So, it’s not as if these claims are coming from nowhere! It’s very nice of Rockwell to respond. I am also dying to hear Dunning’s answer to your question!

Apollinaire responds:

I thought it was very nice, too. He is nice that way: no hoity-toit. I do take issue with one of his claims, though: that there are “so many women critics in the other arts” at the Times. As the women critics count as less than half, whence “so many”? Perhaps he was including all of the badly paid freelancers…
Here’s a little rundown of the staff critics (and I don’t have an official list distinguishing staffers from freelancers, so there may be some inaccuracies, but you’ll get the picture):
Classical music: 4 men, 1 women; chief: man
Pop music: 2 men
Theater: 2 men
Dance: 1 man, 1 woman; chief: man
Visual art and architecture: 4 men, 2 women; chief: man
books: 2 women, 1 man; chief: woman
TV: three women!!! (I don’t know who the chief is)
Movies: 2 men, 1 woman; joint chiefs: a man and a woman
Total: 16 men, 10 women. Chiefs: 6 men; 3 women.
I hate resorting to counting, and wouldn’t have if John had only refrained from imagining that this ratio counted as “so many women.”
Like you, Tonya, I am eager to hear from Jennifer Dunning, though it’s possible that she didn’t have much power in the hiring decision one way or another.

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