ChoreograpHER at Boston Ballet School

Photo credit: Igor Burlak Photography

We talked to Margaret Tracey, Director of Boston Ballet School, about the Choreographic Project.

Photo credit: Igor Burlak Photography

Photo credit: Igor Burlak Photography

Photo credit: Igor Burlak Photography

Photo credit: Igor Burlak Photography

It All Starts in the Classroom

This new endeavor featured female students as a critical pillar of Boston Ballet’s ChoreograpHER initiative, which offers women choreographic opportunities in the classroom, the studio, and on the main stage.

Boston Ballet’s multi-year ChoreograpHER initiative establishes a model for female students and professional dancers to develop their choreographic skills and invests in new, innovative works by female artists. Since training starts in the classroom, Margaret Tracey, Director of Boston Ballet School, has embraced the initiative by pairing it with the annual student Choreographic Project. This series of workshops for Pre-Professional Program students gives them opportunities to create, rehearse, and present their own works. With a shortage of female choreographers in the ballet scene, Tracey is giving these young women a space for self-expression and giving audiences the opportunity to hear from new voices.

The Choreographic Project encourages students to consider choreography as an essential part of their careers. This year, 10 female students were chosen to participate. Tracey developed the project last year to expand the students’ talents and creative opportunities.  “I have always been an advocate for creating ample space for the choreographic process, a vital piece of a student’s educational experience. The students create their schedule and run rehearsals on their own, without a faculty member present. They are responsible for casting, music selection, and costumes. This is an immersive project where they get to learn about collaboration by doing it all.” 

Because mentorship can also be a useful tool for these developing choreographers, faculty member Igor Burlak is available throughout the process. Prior to the performance, he sits in on rehearsals to give pointers and encouraging critique.


 

Photo credit: Igor Burlak Photography

Moving Ahead with the Project

These opportunities are important for all students, and especially female students who typically have not had as much access or encouragement. Tracey Believes that “it doesn't matter when you come to it, you can still find your voice. But I do think that the earlier we can introduce our female dancers to choreography the better. Our hope is to develop the curiosity in our students and empower them to tell their stories through dance without fear or judgment.”

Moving forward, the Choreographic Project will feature exclusively female students every other year. Tracey hopes to improve upon the project moving forward by giving more guidance and perhaps even introducing a written element to the application process. “I always want to allow the Project to evolve, because dance is a living art form. It's living and breathing and growing. Dance happens in the moment and it evolves every time you see it.” She hopes that the program will continue to provide a space for choreography, and that it will teach students how to translate their creativity into dance.

Boston Ballet School is leading the way in enabling young, female students to thrive in this way, and Tracey is “unbelievably proud to be part of an institution that is committed to such meaningful and relevant work.” This project will continue to be an important tool for bringing new creative voices to the stage and classroom, which will be shared with audiences for years to come.

The illusion we create is intended to deepen your understanding of reality.

Mikko Nissinen, Artistic Director
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