Ballet Theater Announces Female Choreographer Initiative

Posted May 9, 2018 3:16 p.m. EDT

NEW YORK — American Ballet Theater announced a multiyear initiative on Wednesday that will support the creation and the staging of new works by female choreographers. The ABT Women’s Movement, which will support at least three female choreographers each season, grew out of Ballet Theater’s Women’s Choreographers Initiative, which has already funded dances by Jessica Lang, Lauren Lovette and Dana Genshaft.

“I realized at the beginning of last year that my future plans for the next three years included a majority of women,” Kevin McKenzie, the company’s artistic director, said in an interview. “I thought, we’re doing this anyway — why don’t we formalize it?”

Most years one work will be made for the main company and one for the ABT Studio Company; another will be a work-in-process that can be workshopped with one of the two groups.

For its opening-night fall gala, on Oct. 17, Ballet Theater will present an all-female program, including a premiere by the tap dancer and choreographer Michelle Dorrance and Twyla Tharp’s 1986 “In the Upper Room.” The program will also feature the Studio Company performing “Le Jeune,” a 2017 work choreographed by Lovette, a principal at New York City Ballet.

The fall season will also include a new work by Lang, her third ballet for the company. Looking ahead to the 2018-19 season, new works will be made by Claudia Schreier, for the Studio Company, and Stefanie Batten Bland, for that group’s residency at Duke University in January of 2019.

“It’s important to level the playing field, if you will, but what’s paramount above and beyond that is, Where is the next voice?” McKenzie said. “I’m looking for somebody who can ignite the excitement of where we are in time. I just care about the work. And it turns out that the work that is catching my eye seems to be a higher percentage of women.”