Annotated Bibliography: the me too Movement and the Ballet Industry

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Updated: Feb 20, 2021
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Sharon Basco’s article “Where Are The Women In Ballet” explores why so many American ballet companies that were founded by women are now all led by male artistic directors. The position of artistic director is one of the most prestigious roles in dance leadership, which makes it so significant that most of these positions are filled by men. The article explains that eight companies were founded by women in 1963- including Boston Ballet, the Washington Ballet, and Houston ballet- who ran strong ballet schools after they received Ford Foundation Grants. These companies are now all run by men. It is explained that as these companies grew in size they were perceived as being more important, and as they grew in importance their leadership positions were replaced with men. This can be attributed to sexism, but also how boys and girls are perceived in ballet class at a young age. Often girls will outnumber boys in a ballet class 10 or 20 to one, and because of this the girls are trained to be obedient and look the same while the men are encouraged to be more individualistic. The boys are “coddled” through scholarships and other initiatives meant to prevent them from quitting, while if the girls show their individual personalities they will be replaced. With the competition so fierce and the demand of being uniform placed on girls, they are not encouraged to take on leadership roles.

Additionally, the men’s workload within companies is lighter and they face much less competition than women, so they are encouraged to develop their creativity and experiment with choreographing. I intend to use this article to provide background to explain why so few women hold positions of leadership within the dance world, and how this lack of female leadership contributes to a culture of sexism.

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This article was published in September 2015 and published on WBUR, Boston’s NPR news station. NPR is known for being a reliable source, and is also known for being accurate in their reporting. The author of this article, Sharon Basco, also focuses her writing on the arts, indicating that she is a reliable source for writing about ballet. I believe this article was created to explore why there are so few women in positions of leadership in ballet, looking at the intersection of leadership and ballet and how ballet is structured to cultivate leadership in boys and not girls.

Both Basco and the Dance Data Project’s report examine the lack of women in power in ballet companies. The DDP report examines the numbers that prove that there is a gender gap in leadership positions, which Basco’s article explores the reasons for this gender gap. This source also connects to the report “A Casual Study About Women Making Work This Upcoming Season” by Copley and Siewert, as Basco discusses the lack of female choreographers as being another result of how girls and boys are treated differently in schools. Basco actually cites Copley and Siewert’s report in her article, using it as evidence of the lack of female choreographers.

While the content of this source may be similar to that of many of my other sources, this specific source is interesting to me because it not only examines the history of ballet but looks at its current structures as well to assess why the pattern of a lack of female leadership continues, despite the advances women have made in the workplace in other fields. I will be using this source to explain how ballet today still treats women as being disposable because of the numbers of girls in ballet classes compared to the number of boys, and how this large difference makes ballet teachers and companies value men more than they value women. There are many talented women who want to dance professionally, but there are far fewer men. Because of this competition between women and the support men are given to encourage them to continue in the field, there is a gender imbalance that exists not only at company levels but in schooling, too.

“Gender, Hierarchy, and Leadership: An Introduction” explores why women continue to lack access to positions of public power and leadership compared to men. This article points to the idea of the “glass ceiling” as an explanation, with the glass ceiling being a metaphor for discrimination and judgement against women. The authors, Linda Carli and Alice Eagly, first present evidence of biased evaluation of women’s potential for leadership and competence. This research shows that women are perceived as being less competent than men and less worthy to hold positions of leadership. As a consequence of these biases, people devalue the work of women who rise to leadership positions. The authors also provide evidence that show that in order for a woman to be influential, she must possess both agentic (typically “masculine”) and communal (typically “feminine”) qualities. This is because if a woman possesses more communal qualities she is perceived as being less competent, and therefore less influential. If a woman possesses more agentic qualities she is seen as violating prescriptive gender roles, which causes men to reject her contributions. The researchers also examine male leaders versus female leaders, saying that female leaders tend to see themselves as leaders in fields that are comparatively traditional for their gender, such as education, and that women expect negative consequences in their personal lives as a result of their leadership. I plan to use this information to further explain why there are far fewer female artistic and executive directors in the ballet industry.

This source was created in 2001 and appeared in the ?Journal of Social Issues ?. This article is an introductory article and is meant to describe the lack of change to women’s status and power in the upper ranks of leadership in organizations. The article also describes other articles and journals that were used as sources for this article. The authors of this source state their purpose for creating it in their conclusion: “An underlying goal of this work was to understand the status of women in society and foster favorable change in women’s status” (Carli and Eagly 634). According to their conclusion, research had previously been done to investigate the issue of gender imbalance in leadership, but such research had been done in an indirect way that failed to address the issue directly. The work of Carli and Eagly is meant to prove that if women ever want to achieve equality they must participate equally in positions in which important decisions are made. Decision making has a major impact on what a society values and how resources are allocated, and so the presence of women in decision making positions will ensure equality for all women. This source appears to be credible as it was published in a scholarly journal, the ?Journal of Social Issues ?. The authors, Linda Carli and Alice Eagly, are reputable authors and professors at Wellesley College and Northwestern University, respectively, both focusing their research on gender and relating issues.

This journal article is similar to the article written by Sharon Basco in that they both provide explanations for the difficulties women face in achieving positions of leadership. They differ in that this article focuses more generally on women in the workplace, giving explanations that can be used to explain gender imbalances in many fields. Basco’s article looks specifically at the differences in how boys and girls are treated while going through school, explaining how the structure of ballet schooling makes boys more predisposed to take on positions of leadership when they are older and how it teaches women to be obedient.

While this source does not directly relate to ballet, it does provide evidence that relates to the basis of my argument, which is that gender discrimination and harassment exist within the dance industry as the result of a lack of female leadership. This article covers many different topics pertaining to gender discrimination within leadership, so as of now I think I will use this source to explain in general why so few women hold positions of leadership, and then use other sources to explain the implications of this problem for the ballet industry. 

This source is an article entitled “City Ballet and Chase Finlay Sued by Woman Who Says Nude Photos of Her Were Shared” that was published by The New York Times. This article describes Alexandra Waterbury’s lawsuit against the New York City Ballet and her ex-boyfriend Chase Finlay, a then principal dancer with the company. Waterbury charges in her lawsuit that Finlay shared sexually explicit photos and videos of her that were taken without her consent or knowledge with others within or affiliated with the company. By the time this source was published Finlay had already resigned from the company after they sought to question him. The company also suspended, and later fired, two other principal dancers, Amar Ramasar and Zachary Catazaro. Waterbury accuses Finlay of sending pictures of her to Ramasar and Catazaro.

Waterbury’s lawsuit also says that she was not alone in being victimized by the men named, and that nude photos of other female dancers were shared along with misogynistic text messages. I intend to use the information from this article as the beginning of my paper.

This article was published this past September. I believe this article was written because this was a news event that shocked many people, non-dancers and dancers alike, especially since it happened so soon after the former artistic director Peter Martins stepped down over accusations of sexual harassment. This source was published in ?The New York Times ?, which is a reputable paper.

This article is very different from any other source I have found, specifically because it focuses on one example of sexual harassment while my other sources look at gender imbalances within the artform as a whole. While this source cannot be directly compared or contrasted with any of my other sources listed here, I believe it fits well with “The Slow-Changing Face of Leadership in Ballet: an Interdisciplinary Approach to Analysing Women’s Roles” by Lisa DeFrank-Cole and Renee K. Nicholson because of their cause and effect relationship. The journal article decribes the history of ballet and how its history and hierarchical structure have led to problems today. The New York Times article then examines a problem that in part can be attributed to the reasons described in the journal. I have many other articles on examples of harassment within the ballet industry, but I did not want to include them in my annotated bibliography because I wanted to focus more on scholarly sources and causes and solutions of problems within ballet. Because of this I cannot really compare this source to any others right now, but in my paper I will include other accounts of assault as evidence to support my claims about ballet’s sexism problem.

I will be using this source to provide a recent, well known example of harassment within the ballet industry. This source will serve as the starting point for my paper, allowing me to analyze why this specific event was so significant for the ballet world (e.g. there are still articles being written about this specific case). Because of the shocking nature of this story it caused many people to question how such a terrible thing could have happened. I intend to use Ms. 

Waterbury’s lawsuit as the culmination of harassment within the industry since it is such a well known case, looking at how the history of ballet and its hierarchy created a power structure that has allowed men, in the words of Waterbury, to “degrade, demean, dehumanize, and sexually abuse women” (Cooper and Pogrebin).

“A Casual Study About Women Making Work This Upcoming Season” is a report that examines the 24 largest ballet companies in the U.S. to compare the total number of works performed by the company that upcoming season with the number of works choreographed by women. ?The report finds that out of the 290 total works produced by the 24 companies, only 25 of the works were choreographed by women. The three biggest companies as determined by annual income, The New York City Ballet, American Ballet Theater, and San Francisco Ballet, all presented zero works by women in that particular season. The report also noted which female choreographers the companies had brought in, showing whether they were bringing in new choreographers or already famous, well-established female choreographers. For example, of the works being performed that were choreographed by women, three were by Twyla Tharp. This may seem small, but considering there are only 25 works by women being produced total, 12% of them were choreographed by one woman.

This study was published following the 2012-2013 ballet season in ?The Cincinnati Enquirer ?. This content was created to investigate the lack of female choreographic work amongst leading ballet companies. To create this source Copley cross-referenced GuideStar data with data made public on company websites to determine the total number of works within a season, and how many of those works were choreographed by women. This research is very straightforward as it explains where the information came from and how anyone could access this data, and any limitations are noted in the report itself. These two factors indicate to me that this resource is credible.

Copley and Siewert’s report is similar to the report created by the Dance Data Project, in that both examine publicly-available data to compare the number of men in positions of leadership with the number of women in positions of leadership. Copley and Siewert’s report differs from the Dance Data Project’s in that they examine the number of choreographers, while the latter report examines the number of women in the positions of artistic director and artistic director. However, it could be noted that the number of men in the position of artistic director influences the number of choreographers who are men, i.e. men in power hire other men. Copley and Siewert’s report actually inspired the Dance Data Project as explained on the DDP’s website, as they seek to further the research begun by the initial report.

As stated above, this source can be combined with others to explain the continuance of mostly men in positions of power. For example, a conclusion that could be drawn is that because most artistic directors are men they hire choreographers who are also men, which continues the pattern of a lack of women in positions of power simply because they are not given the same opportunities. Because of this I plan to use this source to give examples of how the hierarchy and history of dance continues the patterns of gender discrimination and sexism that came with the origins of dance to this day.

“The Slow-Changing Face of Leadership in Ballet: an Interdisciplinary Approach to Analysing Women’s Roles” is a journal article that explores the parallels between leadership and classical ballet, specifically looking at how few women rise to prominent leadership roles. The authors, DeFrank-Cole and Nicholson, begin by describing the origins of ballet to explain how its history contributes to its lack of female leaders. The authors start by explaining the hierarchy within ballet that exists because of its origins in the courts of France and Italy. George  

Balanchine then brought this same hierarchy with him to America when he essentially created ballet in America. Companies in America are still operated in this style today, which automatically puts women at a disadvantage since this hierarchical structure is often linked with men. The authors then examine the case studies of two women in leadership roles: Misty Copeland, a principal dancer at American Ballet Theater, and Lourdes Lopez, the artistic director of Miami City Ballet. The authors then provide an analysis of these two case studies. They then examine why so few women are given the opportunity for leadership roles, looking at reasons similar to those identified by Carli and Eagli, such as the fact that women are not groomed to be leaders in the way that men are. I plan to use this information to explain how the history of ballet illustrates how current problems within the industry came to be, specifically looking at ballet’s hierarchical structure. I also intent to use the case studies to propose solutions to the problems of the ballet world.

This journal article was published in September 2016. The article appears in ?Leadership and the Humanities ?’ fourth volume and second issue, which contained other articles on leadership within different industries. The authors state their intention as being to explore the parallels between the arts and leadership, specifically in the context of classical ballet. This is a topic that is underexplored, the authors explain, and it is because of this that they sought to create connections. The authors do this by finding sources on women in leadership positions, examining the glass cliff and the different qualities of male and female leaders. They then apply this research to examples within the ballet world, looking from George Balanchine to more contemporary examples of leadership including Misty Copeland. This source appears to be credible as it was published in ?Leadership and the Humanities ?, a peer-reviewed research journal.

Additionally, the authors Lisa DeFrank-Cole and Renee K. Nicholson are professors of leadership studies and multidisciplinary studies, respectively, at West Virginia University, where they have both conducted research on leadership.

DeFrank-Cole and Nicholson’s article is similar to Carli and Eagly’s in that they both focus on factors that keep women from rising to positions of leadership. However, they do differ in that the former article examines the parallels between leadership and classical ballet, whereas the latter article explores problems for women in positions of leadership, not necessarily in a specific field. Because of this difference the former article relies more on the history of dance combined with how societal gender roles are manifested in ballet to focus their argument on one specific industry.

I think this source was created for those interested in studying leadership, given the nature of the journal in which it was published. This source seems to be unbiased, given that the authors’ argument is based in research, as cited throughout their article. The authors clearly believe that more women should have the opportunity for more leadership roles, and as this argument is based on research and examples it seems to be a reliable source. 

This report by the Dance Data Project compares the number of women in the positions of artistic director and executive director for ballet companies versus the number of men in the same positions for the fifty largest ballet companies in the United States. After determining the distribution of gender for artistic and executive leaders, the report then examines the annual salaries for these positions. The research found women to be underrepresented in positions of leadership, especially the position of artistic director. More women were represented in the position of executive director, but still are far below men. The small number of women with leadership roles also face high pay gaps; in 2016 women earned 62 cents for every dollar earned by male artistic directors, and in 2017 it increased to 68 cents. The pay gaps were not as wide for executive directors, but they still existed. I will use this data to provide evidence of how sexism exists within the ballet industry.

This report was published in February of 2019, and was written and published by The Dance Data Project. The DDP’s website states that their research is focused on examining “gender imbalances in artistic and administrative leadership positions in dance companies, venues, and organizations” ( This source appears to be credible because of the manner in which data was collected. In the report the researchers list their sources so that the readers know where their data is coming from. Their data on leadership salaries was obtained from Form 990 from GuideStar, a website that provides profiles of IRS-recognized-tax-exempt organizations. Gender was determined through research of company websites. While The Dance Data Project is not well known as a reputable source because it is so new, its report is very transparent in how the research was found, as well as the restrictions to their data. This resource is also objective, as it provides clear data through charts and graphs without providing analysis that is meant to sway the reader. The data is presented based on the IRS forms, as stated above, and is essentially compiled for the reader to show patterns. The data is clearly meant to prove the existence of gender bias within the dance industry, as the research project is intended to examine gender imbalance within the industry, but the implications of this research are left for the readers to interpret.

This report is similar to Sharon Basco’s article “Where Are The Women In Ballet?” in that both explore the lack of female artistic directors. They differ in that Basco’s article relies more on anecdotal evidence, citing the example of the eight companies founded by women that are now all led by men. This report gives specific data to provide evidence of the scope of this problem. Basco’s article relies on the assumption that everyone knows there’s a large gender gap between female artistic directors and male artistic directors, but this source analyzes the fifty largest companies in the U.S. to find specific numbers that can be used to support Basco’s article.

I am going to use this source to provide evidence for my argument that sexism is present in the dance industry. The lack of female leaders in ballet is something that has been discussed for a while now, but it has been discussed only with anecdotal evidence. Looking at the number of companies with male artistic and executive directors, it was always clear that the gender makeup of leadership roles in ballet are largely inhabited by men. However, there was no hard evidence to prove that there was a correlation between gender and position. This resource is so helpful to me because now in my paper I not only can explain that more men hold positions of leadership, but I can back that claim up with data.

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