Top British Dance School Scraps Ballet Auditions Saying It’s ‘White & Elitist’

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Woke school plans to 'decolonise' curriculum to make it gender neutral


A top British dance school has dropped ballet from its entry auditions after branding it a white ‘elitist art form’

The school argues that ballet is a form of dance that is rooted in ‘white European ideas,’ it is expensive to learn, idealises certain body shapes and physical attributes, and divides roles along gender lines.

The Northern School of Contemporary Dance (NSCD) in Leeds, say they reviewed the dance as part of a wider plan to ‘decolonise the curriculum’ to make it gender neutral.

The Mail Online reports: Head of undergraduate studies at the conservatoire, Francesca McCarthy, called ballet an ‘elitist art form’. 

Ballet’s traditional terminology uses ‘ballerina’ for women and ‘danseur’ for men, with female dancers focusing on pointe work and lifts and leaps for men.

Ms McCarthy said the ballet’s terminology has ‘strongly gendered roots’ and was, ‘problematic in relation to inclusion of non-binary and trans dancers.’

Ballet will still be taught at the school, which charges £9,250 per year for British students, and £17,500 per year for international dancers. 

However the classes and teaching methods have been altered to be more ‘inclusive’. 

‘There are issues relating to body, money, language and movement vocabulary,’ Ms McCarthy told The Telegraph.

She said that class costs impact students who cannot afford to learn the dance, adding ballet ‘is built around particular white European ideas and body shapes’ which could put off dancers who do not fit this ‘aesthetic ideal’.

Ms McCarthy added that the dance’s terminology has ‘strongly gendered roots’, with most teachers trained at a point in time that focused on a clear distinction between female and male dancers. 

‘There was a shift to ladies and gentleman over time but this is still problematic in relation to inclusion of non-binary and trans dancers,’ she added.

The head of undergraduate studies, who credits her ‘wonderful wife’ and two adopted sons for becoming more aware of ‘challenges experienced by young people today’, added that the NSCD is encouraging staff to use gender-neutral words, such as ‘dancers/people/folk/everyone/everybody’.

Staff are also encouraged to use ‘they’ instead of he and she, to ‘not make assumptions’ about students’ identities.

It comes as the school works to ‘decolonise’ its teaching and work with LGBT+ societies on the matter.

The NSCD said that it reviews its content, and has removed the dance from audition days ‘due to its potentially contentious nature’.

Niamh Harris
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