A few months ago, Rambert held a panel discussion on what the dance industry can do to create opportunities and commissions for female artists. It had good intentions, but unfortunately it also had 10 panel members and only 90 minutes, which meant it never stood a chance of doing more than very very lightly scratching the surface of the topic.
Out of the conversations which followed immediately after the Rambert debate, there was a clear need for independent dance artists to have their say and be listened to in topics of gender and equality, and for something to be done about changing the status quo. While we have had a range of events from panel debates, conference sessions and the Female Choreographers' Collective's showcases exploring the topic of female choreographers, I felt that an open space event would be the best way to address the frustration and voices from the independent dance sector and to instigate real change.
I did not want sole ownership of this topic and event, so I spent a long time seeking partnerships across the independent dance sector in order to ensure that the independent sector is represented. So on 10 January (the only date Donald Hutera could attend), a number of us came together to either propose topics to discuss or choose topics to sit in on and contribute to throughout the day.
Attendees included Donald Hutera, Bruce Marriott (DanceTabs), Luke Jennings, Julia Gleich, Genevieve Grady (LCDS), Rosie Whitney-Fish (DanceWest), Ieva Kuniskis, David Murley, Dam Van Huynh, Pierre Palluet, Jenny Whittaker (CoDa Dance), Alicia Kidman, Sophie Williams, Sarah Blanc, Joumana Mourad (IJAD Dance Company), Caroline Salem (40 Clarence Mews), Daisy Farris, Konstantina Skalionta (Kaleidoscopic Arts), Sally Marie, Susie Crow, Hanna Wrobleski, Niamh de Valera (Blue Elephant Theatre), Mira Kaushik (Akademi), Monica Nicolaides (MonixArts), Raymond Chai, Kimberley Harvey (Subtle Kraft Co), Rhiannon Faith, Mary Price-O'Connor (The Theatre Moving Lab and the event's facilitator) and of course myself, Chantal Guevara. There were other participants too (eg Nimh), but I didn't catch their names.
People who'd planned to attend but had to cancel on the day included Lise Uytterhoeven (London Studio Centre), Kyla Booth-Lucking, Gitta Wigro, Holly Noble and Jane Coulston (Female Choreographers' Collective), Nikki Watson (CoDa Dance), Dr Sara Houston (University of Roehampton and Chair of People Dancing) and Becca Thomas (Birmingham Dance Network). Ironically, considering how significant a topic childcare is within the female dance community, many people were unable to attend due to childcare issues.
This is the schedule of the day, as proposed by the participants; people arrived throughout the day and were invited to propose topics of their own, but they each chose to attend the existing sessions instead.
The theme of the day was very action-focussed, which fed into each session, as the participants sought to turn each discussion - no matter how widely they digressed - into action points. The final session of the day was titled 'What Do We Want?' which brought the entire group together to focus entirely on desired change and outcomes and what we can do, both individually and as a group, to make a start on these changes.
Notes of each of the sessions were taken by the session leader (or by Kimberley Harvey, who has fantastic note-taking skills), and will be accompanied by each session report once they've been written up. You can view these here.