Talking Moves Series 3 Episode 1: Women and Dance

Talking Moves | 30 April 2021

In this episode we talk to Avatâra Ayuso and Anna Williams about Women and Dance.

Within an overwhelmingly female profession, it still feels largely led by men particularly in creative and managerial roles. How has this come about and most importantly… what can we do about it?

We discuss how being a woman has shaped Avatâra and Anna’s own careers and those of other women they see, we discuss the work both of them are doing through their initiatives and teaching programmes and the mechanisms they use to empower young female dancers. Avatâra observes that women are more often than not infantalised (which comes up again and again as we unpick the topic through the discussion) and Anna discusses the careful use of language as she works with young and impressionable dancers.

Together we contemplate the unfairness of the dance sector gender make-up and drill down into why achieving a gender balance really matters. Avatâra draws upon years of study and reflection – gathering case studies from powerful dancing women across the world and Anna contemplates the hierarchical nature of the balletic institutions and together we ponder whether those companies have in a way become a metaphor of the sector – lines of excellently trained female corp de ballet, some highlighted male soloists and the choreographic genius at the top.

The three of us reflect on what stands in the way for women and dance, predictably the subject of parenthood, along with the impact that Covid has had and the learning we might take from this past year about how we could do things differently. Together we reflect upon whether there are changes to make in ourselves which could progress the movement, alongside thinking about the changes we hope that others might look to make.

Finally we reflect upon some of the recommendations coming out of the recent Women in Theatre Forum Report such as quotas and training, and discuss whether these really are the tools we need for change.

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Who's Who

A black and white head shot of Anna Williams

Anna Williams

Anna Williams is an award winning dancer and choreographer based in the UK. She has worked as a performer and maker in dance, theatre, opera and live art for over twenty years. She was the recipient of the Prix Individuel (ADAMI) performance award at the International Festival for Choreography Bagnolet, Paris and her choreography has been nominated for a South Bank Show Award (UK).

She is the co-artistic director of Anatomical – the makers of the hit interactive family shows ’The Doodle Dance Show’ & The Buildy-uppy Dance Show which have toured to over 30 venues around the UK.

From 1991 to 2002 she was a founder member of the award winning Ricochet Dance Company creating and performing works by celebrated choreographers Stephen Petronio, Rosemary Lee, Javier de Frutos, Wayne Macgregor, Russell Maliphant and Nigel Charnock. Ricochet was an artist-led commissioning company which toured nationally and internationally, representing British contemporary dance around the world.

She was a soloist with the Russell Maliphant Dance Company from 2002 – 2010 creating and performing new works and repertoire. She has recently returned to the company as rehearsal director for the company piece ‘Silent Lines’ and assisted Russell on his most recent work for Lyon Opera Ballet.
A black and white head and shoulders image of Avatara Ayuso

Avatâra Ayuso

Avatâra Ayuso is a choreographer, Artistic Director of Ava Dance Company, a cultural leader and activist in the dance world. She is also the founder and director of the charity Awa Dance  (Advancing Women’s Aspirations with Dance). She trained in ballet (Conservatorio Profesional de Mallorca and with Carmina Ocaña), in Argentinean Tango and in Linguistics (BA and MA, Universidad Complutense de Madrid) before moving to London to obtain a Certificate in Higher Education at London Contemporary Dance School. In 2005 she became part of the D.A.N.C.E. programme led by Jason Beechey, where she worked and performed internationally under the artistic direction of William Forsythe, Wayne McGregor, Frédéric Flamand and Angelin Preljocaj.  She obtained a Postgraduate Degree in Dance from Palucca Hochschule Dresden. From 2010-2018 she has been Associate Artist of the European Centre for the Arts Hellerau Dresden (Germany) and she is Associate Company of Creative Academy Slough (UK) since 2014. She was nominated for the 2015 UK National Dance Awards and  nominated again in the 2019 UK National Dance Awards for Outstanding Female Modern Performance. She is Residence Artist 2019 at the Teatro del Lago in Chile. Avatâra is a dancer and long-standing creative collaborator of Shobana Jeyasingh Dance (UK) since 2007.

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