NYU Center for Ballet Announcement

Virginia B. Toulmin Foundation Doubles Funding of Fellowship for Women Leaders in Dance at the Center for Ballet and the Arts at NYU

The Center Will Expand Its Toulmin Fellowship to Support Choreographers and Composers Year-round.

The Center for Ballet and the Arts at NYU (CBA) has received a two-year gift from the Virginia B. Toulmin Foundation that will more than double its current level of annual support for the Virginia B. Toulmin Fellowship for Women Leaders in Dance, a unique fellowship designed to support the work of women in dance and promote broader equity in the field.

With this gift, the fellowship—formerly known as the Virginia B. Toulmin Fellowship for Women Choreographers—will expand its applicant pool to include both women choreographers and women composers for dance. Additionally, it will support up to four fellows each year, allowing CBA to host Toulmin Fellows year-round.

The Foundation has provided three years of support to date (2015-2018). Past Toulmin Fellows include: Melissa BarakClaudia Schreier, and current Toulmin Fellow Danielle Agami. Recipients of the 2018 – 2019 Virginia B. Toulmin Fellowship for Women Leaders in Dance will be announced in May.

“In our partnership with The Center for Ballet and the Arts, we have found an ideal incubator for emerging female choreographers to learn, grow, and develop their art,” said Alexander C. Sanger, Trustee at the Foundation. “We are proud to expand the funding of the Virginia B. Toulmin Fellowship for Women Leaders in Dance, giving both choreographers and composers the support needed to take risks, create new work, and collaborate as level actors in a dance landscape where leadership is historically dominated by men.”

The Virginia B. Toulmin Fellowship for Women Leaders in Dance will provide fellows with a weekly stipend of $2,500. Fellows are also offered studio space, an office, access to housing, a project development fund, and the opportunity to be part of a community of artists and scholars with whom they can exchange ideas.

Applications for the 2019-2020 academic year will open in August 2018.

The Center for Ballet and the Arts at New York University is an international institute for scholars and artists of ballet and its related arts and sciences. It exists to inspire new ideas and new ballets, expanding the way we think about ballet and bringing vitality to its history, practice and performance in the 21st century.

The Virginia B. Toulmin Foundation has created a Program for Commissioning Women in the Performing Arts, through which it funds commissions of new works by women in symphonic music, opera, ballet and theater. The Foundation was created by Virginia B. Toulmin, who was passionately devoted to the performing arts and the advancement of women.


Women Can Write Ballet Music As Well as Men

How many times have I heard at the end of a ballet performance, “Why did the choreographer select that piece of music?” Or, “I saw X choreograph that music much better.” Or, “The music didn’t fit the dance.”
While I don’t agree with Elizabeth Streb that music is the enemy of dance, some pieces of music are.
How do we help choreographers find an ally – a piece of music best suited to realize their artistic vision? Maybe by looking beyond what the herd is doing.
The country’s major ballet companies, and their choreographers, mostly male, almost universally choreograph to music composed by living and deceased men. That is the reality of the ballet world and the music world.
I reviewed the 2017 seasons of New York City Ballet, ABT, Pacific Northwest, San Francisco, Boston, Atlanta, Miami, Houston, Pennsylvania and Joffrey Ballets The choreographers were overwhelmingly male. This is not news.
What is news is that the music was even more skewed male. The dead males – Tchaikovsky, Mozart, Chopin, Stravinsky – are heard repeatedly. The living composers are an eclectic lot – Glass, Stevens, Adams – again almost all male.
There was exactly one female composer: Fanny Mendelsohn Hensel, selected by choreographer Jessica Lang for her ballet, Her Notes, for ABT.
In the dozens and dozens of ballets performed by the nation’s major ballet companies in 2017, one ballet had music composed by a woman.
Even the few female choreographers working for these major companies chose male-composed music.
No doubt there is less female-composed music to choose from now and in the past. There are few Fanny Mendelsohns in the 19th and 20th centuries. Women now are still not entering music conservatories equally with men. At Juilliard, for instance, female students comprise about 15% or less of the composition department – a situation that Juilliard is trying to rectify.
Choreography is hard. Composition is hard. No doubt. Matching the two is exponentially difficult. How can choreographers widen their radar to find music that speaks to them that inspires, that helps them realize their artistic aims?
Music publishers can help. They have libraries of composers – male and female – whom they represent. One can search for female composers on Spotify. One can talk to conservatories and their female faculty and students. Female composers of talent are out there. Looking for them may take just a bit more effort. I guarantee you will find original music that the herd won’t.