Steps in the Right Direction

This week, NYCB is back to work, and wow, are we jumping right in. Our season opens in less than 3 weeks with 2 weeks of Swan Lake performances, and a gala, complete with 4 (count 'em) world premieres. While not involved in any of the new ballets, I'm mildly pleased with the direction NYCB is going with its choice of choreographers. There is, of course, the required offering from the NYCB resident choreographer, Justin Peck, two returning company member choreographers of last Fall Gala, Lauren Lovette and Troy Schumacher, and (drum roll please) a ballet by Gianna Reisen, who up until this past spring, was a mere student at the School of American Ballet. Having never seen Ms. Reisen's work myself, I am not in a good position to judge, but after many conversations with people who are familiar with her work, she seems to be bursting with natural talent and brains. I am nevertheless, excited to see two female choreographers on the program and I sincerely hope this trend continues until it is no longer something to even think to look for. Well, truth be told, I'd love to see an all female choreographer program without billing as such. It is like what Ruth Bader Gingsburg said, when asked how many female Supreme Court  justices were enough, "9." It is enough when all choreographers on a program are women. Not a special "all woman choreographer" program. Just any normal program. I'd also love at some point in the future to see a woman present an evening length program at NYCB, whether it be a full length or separate ballets to create a whole program. In the 17 years I've been a part of NYCB, there have been seven programs that featured just one choreographer for the evening: Balanchine, Robbins, Martins, Wheeldon, Ratmansky, Peck, and Feld. This also shows another glaring problem in the dance world today: the lack of diversity. And again, this is another area that I find myself mildly pleased with the NYCB. As I Iooked around company class on the first day, I noticed that we weren't just a room full of white people. Thanks to the School of American Ballet's diversity initiative (a long needed program), NYCB now has a pool of diverse, talented students to pick from for apprenticeships. The program is changing the look of the company for the better. In a place like the NYCB, where individuality is highly prized, it should be expected for the company to be a leader in change of this nature. Although the diversity problem is late in being solved, it is on its way, and I'm proud to be part of an organization that is at the front. I've been away from NYCB since the end of May, and all told, it is good to be back.