Q: How do you approach gender when teaching in 2020? When I was training, male dancers were encouraged to make their movement masculine, while female dancers were encouraged to keep their movement feminine. Today, gender has become much more fluid, and the line between masculine and feminine performance has blurred. How does that impact the way we should be teaching?
A: Yes, dance is changing. Masculine and feminine performance has blurred more and more, and I love watching the direction we are traveling in. It’s common to see girls lifting girls, and boys lifting boys in choreography now. It’s also not unusual to watch a performance with a male dancer in a skirt, or a female dancer in a suit and tie. In my opinion, dance educators should give children a strong base for their training at a young age. To me, this means that young boys should be taught to be strong in their movement, and girls should be taught to be feminine. But, as a dancer matures, expanding on traditional training to blur the traditional gender lines is beneficial.
Some ways you might approach this in class is by not assigning movement a gender. I think a “lifts class” that isn’t expressly male or female is a great addition to your students’ training. Similarly, jumps that were traditionally only performed by men are now being performed by both genders. There shouldn’t be a male-only jumps portion of class. Both male and female dancers should have the opportunity to train in them. As dance educators, we should give our students (regardless of their gender) the opportunity to expand and diversify their training. This is a great way to do that.