CELEBRATING THE WOMEN OF DANCE CONSORTIUM

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This International Women’s Day, we’re proud to be celebrating the strong core of female freelancers who work to create and facilitate our Dance Consortium Tours. From press to production, Dance Consortium has over 15 women working on our current tour of São Paulo Dance Company’s UK & Ireland Premiere.

With a long history of underrepresentation and sustained levels of inequality for women working across the entertainment industries, the past decade has seen a huge shift in gender equality with notable increase in the number of female directors, choreographers, writers and creatives across the sector. Dance Consortium is particularly proud to currently have such a female orientated team who all play equal parts in ensuring that the success and development of the consortium continues.

Fiona Ross, Learning & Participation Producer, reflects on the women that inspired her to begin her career in dance: ‘Having initially trained as a dancer, pioneers like Marie Rambert and Pina Bausch inspired me on my dance journey and I look to contemporary leaders like Emily Molnar and Ailey 2’s Francesca Harper for inspiration, driving the industry forward with innovation and passion.’ 

Managing all aspects of Dance Consortium’s engagement work, Fiona works to nurture the next generation of leaders in theatre through leading our Future Leaders initiative. The current cohort includes 7 young women taking their first steps in their creative careers. With 20+ years’ experience in leading similar creative engagement projects, Fiona champions the transformative power of dance and expresses ‘it’s never too late to start dancing – I’m on a mission to spread the joy of movement far and wide, one step at a time!’ 

Let’s turn the spotlight onto our technical team, led by Production Coordinator Jenny Wheeler. Having worked in the industry for almost 15 years, Jenny started her career working at Glyndebourne Opera House where she began as just the second woman to form part of the stage crew. Having recently returned to find many more women forming the lighting and stage teams, she notes this transition as ‘particularly inspiring to witness’.

Additionally, Jenny tells us that ‘Having toured with Dance Consortium over the last 4 years, we are seeing more and more women in the toolbox talks every Get-In morning which makes me especially proud that (along with technicians Chris and Richard), Cat, Jo, Julia, Helen, and I can continue to inspire female work within venues we visit.’

Production Electrician, Cat James, adds that ‘throughout the last 20 years of working within touring musical theatre and dance (alongside working as Head of Lighting & Sound at Cambridge Arts Theatre), it’s been great to witness an increase in women not only working amongst technical venue teams but as heads of departments. Echoing Jenny, it’s a great feeling to be welcoming younger women into the technical theatre sector and being able to be seen as somewhat of a role model for graduates & trainees but unfortunately the reality is that, as an industry, we are not 100% there yet with the shift in respect from certain generations – we are seeing such positive change but it remains very much a work in progress!’ 

Our chosen trucking company, Stagefreight, has provided us with the wonderful Helen Crighton as our designated truck driver for our previous two tours. Helen has been driving HGV’s for 25 years and has also experienced a shift in respect for her vocation; ‘over the years it has felt like there has been an underlying difficulty being a woman driver, especially through simple practicalities such as lack of women’s showers at services! There has definitely been a feeling of having to prove myself at work but this has made me stronger and more determined to succeed in the industry! Nowadays, it’s not as difficult but it hasn’t disappeared completely, though, I do love my job and hope I can carry on for many years to come!’ 

Our Tour Management team currently consists of Jo Valentine, Tour Coordinator, and Julia Munro, Tour Manager. Actively touring with the companies over the last year, Julia notes that ‘it has been wonderful working collaboratively with so many female staff members across our member theatres. It’s particularly poignant for me to be discovering a strong majority of younger women heading up Front of House, Education and Stage Door teams as I’ve witnessed first hand the real barriers and stereotypes that present themselves for young people breaking into this industry. Additionally, to witness such strong yet compassionate leadership from Artistic Director, Inês Bogéa, throughout the SPDC tour has been an absolute joy.’ 

Jo Valentine, having worked in the dance sector since 2004 within both the UK and overseas touring market, supports Julia’s thoughts around female prominence throughout our member theatres and is proud to be a part of the female collective within Dance Consortium.

Alongside our core touring team, we also celebrate our team working ‘behind the scenes’;  

Martha Oakes & Sue Lancashire: Martha Oakes PR

Helen Snell: Marketing @ Helen Snell Ltd

Juliet Manners, Sunita Verma, Elyena Clapperton: Specialised Travel | Production Touring

Rebecca Gaskin & Janice Jane Webster: Rowlands Webster Accountants

Shereden Mathews: Marketing @ Dressing Room 5 

Samina Beckford: Ailey Project UK Programme Coordinator

Meg, Pheobe & Victoria at HdK (Website management)

Independent consultants Amy Vaughan & Sarah Frankland

 

Marianne Locatori, Co-Chair of Dance Consortium’s Board of Directors, concludes; ‘I’d like to personally champion the all-female Dance Consortium team on the road for this 7 week tour who do a fantastic job of bringing world class dance companies to regional theatres and audiences. We’ve worked hard to diversify our board of directors, over 50% of whom identify as female.’

‘It’s particularly important that we promote the fact that it’s possible for anyone, especially women, to undertake roles that historically may have been perceived as solely for men.’ 

 

Article collated by Julia Munro