News: 'The BENCH' set to smash glass ceiling for Female Choreographers

Friday 24 July 2015 by Clare Evans

2Faced Dance Company has announced The BENCH, a new programme set to smash the glass ceiling for Female Choreographers. The BENCH has been developed in direct response to serious concerns about the lack of equality currently faced by female choreographers within the contemporary dance sector.

Peter Knott, Area Director, Arts Council England has said: “Diversity and equality are crucial to keeping the arts rich and vibrant. We want to support arts organisations to break down barriers and create more opportunities to bring creativity and talent to the fore. The BENCH is an important step forward to support and develop the work of female choreographers.”

The UK-wide programme will run from 2015-2018. Over that three year period, The BENCH will train, mentor and develop around 18 of the UK’s most promising female choreographers. Through a series of masterclasses, intensive training sessions, ongoing mentoring and opportunities to connect with venues, programmers and commissioners, Fellows will equip themselves with the skills and confidence to compete equally for high profile commissions. Each year one Fellow will have a further opportunity to have their work commissioned and performed by a national dance company.

Tamsin Fitzgerald, Artistic Director of 2Faced Dance commented: “The BENCH marks the start of an exciting journey for the UK dance sector. I decided to create a programme specifically for women when I was having a conversation with some colleagues. They counted over 30 high profile male choreographers but could barely count 10 female choreographers. Left on the bench is where most female choreographers end up while their male peers forge ahead on career development and commissions. Instead of waiting around for someone else to initiate a project, I thought now is the time to make a difference and so I designed The BENCH.”

“I have since received an overwhelming response from female choreographers across the country in planning this programme. The UK has many incredible, eloquent and talented women creating work whose choreographic voices are just not being heard or seen. The BENCH will begin to explore and unpick some of the issues surrounding women as creators, whilst also putting talent and creation at the forefront.”

Applications to the first year of The BENCH will open on Thursday 16 July, and submissions must be received by no later than 5pm on Friday 7 August.
Details of how to apply, together with the selection criteria, can be found at www.the-bench.org.

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