New York choreographer Clare Byrne: Sticking it out
This email just in:
Whether sexism is a more pervasive presence in the New York dance community than in other places, I don't have experience to say. But I can say New Yorkers experience it -- to greater or lesser degrees, depending on our age, gender, color, size, creative inclinations, positionings -- and it affects our input and output.
So then we must decide what to do about it, if anything, and when and how much: how much to focus on it, in order to hopefully make positive change, as well as how much not to focus on it, in order to hopefully make positive change. Both are potentially good moves. It's a matter of emphasis, and we can all choose as we wish.
When Apollinaire chooses to focus on the issue of sexism (as admittedly one of many ways to look at it) within the Times appointment, I want to hear it! and also hear her alternative suggestions to the Times, of having a co-appointment. For myself, I answer any questions of "Why are you focusing on the negative here?" and "Why are you being personally reactive?" by saying that there are compelling reasons for it -- change-inducing, positive effects that can be elicited from doing both of those exact things, at times. Maybe this is one of those times.
So for all of your reasons, I'm glad you've stuck your neck out, Apollinaire.
Apollinaire responds: Thank you, Clare. This issue (the hiring of a dance chief at the Times--see the previous multiple posts) turns out to be very contentious. I'd expected a more "oh, whatever" response. At this point, I probably would have preferred that.
I wholeheartedly agree that one has to choose one's issues carefully. And this one has been complicated, because I'm not an outside observer: I have worked for or beside the people I'm talking about, and I have had my own experiences with the Times. On the other hand, an outside observer probably wouldn't have cared enough to say anything.
And yes! the only reason to even bother is in the hopes that the Times will treat its freelancers better in the future, be more careful about who they bring on so we could have the tiering I spoke of and not have writers suddenly let go, think hard before hiring over the heads of present writers, and not be oblivious to the character of this field: that dance is an overwhelmingly female arena and that just as they're hiring someone from London, dance writer after dance writer has lost her job here. (I think the writers were all women.)
This is probably a good place to stop, though I still hope to hear from Jennifer Dunning. I ran into her a couple of weeks ago. She said John Rockwell had not misrepresented her: she does feel men should be hired for the legitimacy they might confer on dance. She said she would write. She has a lot of assignments at the Times, so we'll be lucky to get something from her whenever we do.
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