Feminism, Kaleidoscopic Arts and our place in this world

Beginning a new blog series

As the runners of Kaleidoscopic Arts we are of course feminists. Do we believe that there is systematic sexism at work in the British or the wider dance world? Do we believe some individuals intentionally try not to have women empowered within the dance world? The truth is we don’t know. We might like to know, but what we think really matters is this:

Do we see women’s perspectives and stories or not? Do we see them enough or not?

The answers to those questions are more or less “no, we don’t – sometimes we see them a little bit” and that’s not good enough for us, so we think there is a problem.

Knowing the reasons why we don’t have enough female perspectives would probably help to bring about solutions, but for now we haven’t found them and honestly, we don’t know how to find them just yet. Initiatives such as The Bench and their upcoming event as well as Cloud Dance’ Open Space will find them in due course and we’re proud to be a part of the latter and looking forwards to the results of both. Instead of remaining inactive in the mean time though, we thought we do something rather than nothing, hence the birth of Kaleidoscopic Arts.

Why is it so important to see women’s perspectives and stories as a matter of principle?

The world, Earth, our beautiful planet, is home to a large number of people who have very different experiences of life for historic, social, political and personal reasons.

Economic globalisation brings us closer together whether we want it or not. There are positive aspects, there are negative aspects. Globalisation is happening either way so let’s make the most of it and let’s do it well.

Not knowing and not understanding is known to breed fear, distrust and even hatred. There is a large body of literature and research on these matters. They are complex and we don’t presume to understand them fully. We do, however, conclude that knowing and understanding are crucial in living together so connectedly. This kind of knowing and understanding is a complex notion. It is taught, but it’s not straightforward. This kind of knowing and understanding is the result of hearing and seeing stories, of receiving them a lot and in many different forms and from many different channels, because a story is made up of the contents and of the storyteller. This kind of knowing and understanding is culture.

We need to hear and see stories from our own cultures, our own histories and those of others. I regard this as absolutely vital to living and it needs to be happening as widely and comprehensively as possible within families, at schools, in vocational training, at universities, at work and of course within arts and entertainment.

Dance is part of this too and what I’ve just said does not mean every dance piece has to tell a story literally. No. I include everything in the notion of “stories”. It means all kinds of stories by all kinds of people have to be told and a story can be a fairtytale, a literal story and an “abstract” dance on a theme, music, notion, and so on as well.

If we exclude women (actively or passively) then we’re not making a good start to having as many different storytellers as possible and that’s why it is so important to see women’s perspectives and stories.

We believe in the importance of sharing as many stories as possible and of having as many different storytellers as possible and our work endeavours to get the female perspective seen. We think this is important work and we’re very proud of it.

Is feminism dated?

Sometimes people ask if feminism is dated or if feminism is still necessary. It’s easy to see why the question may arise since in the UK, for instance, many, many injustices and inequalities have been overcome throughout the last century. However, we say it is still necessary for many reasons, e.g.  because we don’t see women’s perspectives enough in the UK dance world (and other areas) and because we don’t live alone here in the UK, and as soon as we look at the wider world and the overwhelming amount of injustice and inequality women face the case for feminism is clear.

Kaleidoscopic Arts and our place in the wider world

I admit I find learning and knowing about the amount of injustice in the world too much to bear at times and I don’t know how to do anything helpful and therefore I sometimes chose to shut it out. While continuing to figure out what we can do, Kaleidoscopic Arts is what we are doing right now. And within Kaleidoscopic Arts we will begin to publish blog posts that shine a little light on aspects of the wider world.

We will do this by choosing Ted Talks and writing up a little response. We hope you, the reader, will find this a good way to access information in a time in which it is hard to choose what to read, because there is so much information out there. Our posts will always be about women, art, dance, social issues and politics in one combination or another and we will keep them short unlike this big explanation. We hope you enjoy following them!

Further reading

The Bench www.the-bench.org

Cloud Dance Festival’s open space event open space event on gender and (in)equality in the dance industry http://space.cloud-dance-festival.org.uk/

On female choreographers in the UK:

An expansive list of articles, blogs and organisations on the topic, including general articles, articles on Tamara Rojo’s “She Said” at the English National Ballet as well as articles on the so-called “female choreographers row” surrounding a statement by choreographer Akram Khan early in 2016

http://www.kaleidoscopic-arts.co.uk/resources

I’m having trouble finding an anti-woman conspiracy in dance by Ismene Brown

http://blogs.spectator.co.uk/2016/01/im-having-troubling-finding-an-anti-woman-conspiracy-in-dance/

You’re wrong, Akram. We do need more female choreographers by Luke Jennings

http://www.theguardian.com/stage/2016/jan/18/akram-khan-more-female-choreographers-for-the-sake-of-it-luke-jennings-reply

This post was written by Lucia Schweigert.

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