Why Ballet Dancers Should Talk Politics

Sometimes ballet dancers post their opinions on their public social media accounts – people like Allison deBona (BalletWest), Lauren Cuthbertson (the Royal Ballet) and Ashley Bouder (NYCB) talk about things like motherhood, feminismballet teachers, Brexit, voting…and some of these opinions can be polarizing.

And that is fair enough – we don’t and shouldn’t have to agree on everything. What I take umbrage with is people thinking that artists, be they dancers, actors, singers etc, should only talk about things overtly related to their job. The age old “politics has no place in ballet/[insert art form of your choice]!” argument, so to speak.

I have been a big fan of politics ever since I was 12 and was swept up in the ~drama~ of Bush versus Gore (you might have gotten an idea of how much I love politics if you’ve seen my Trump/Kim/ballet mashups on instagram); I loved it so much that one of my teenage ambitions was to be Christian Amanpour, which horrified my parents, who were not keen on the idea of me travelling to war-torn countries to cover breaking news stories and refused to let me study for a journalism degree in university. We did, however, compromise with degrees in political science and law.

So when Lauren Cuthbertson received vitriol along those lines of people saying she had no place to express that opinion when she made a ‘Stop Brexit’ on instagram, I finally decided to put my political science degree to direct use and break down the myth that politics has no place in ballet.

Cover image from Pinterest.

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1 Comment

  • Reply
    Carolyn Paine
    July 9, 2019 at 4:21 pm

    Hello Min!

    I love this post and totally agree that dance and politics can team up!

    My name is Carolyn Paine and I am an actress, dancer, and choreographer and advocate for women through my art.
    My latest work is a piece of filmed choreography entitled “Pulling”, which is co-produced by DFX Entertainment and Other World Recording, and I am making available to stream online beginning this Wednesday, July 10, 2019.

    Here is a preview link to the dance video:

    In this 3 minute dance, I look at domestic violence through heart-wrenching and dynamic choreography. Statistics state 1 in 3 women will experience domestic violence in their lifetime. My work aims to inspire those affected by this issue, or anyone who thinks someone in their life is being affected, to know they are not alone and to consider speaking out and getting help because most cases of domestic abuse are never reported.

    The choreography was inspired by my personal experiences. I have sadly seen first hand and from close friends that abuse comes in many forms. I am glad to see that thanks to the media-especially films and television, we are finally starting to have a much more open dialogue about domestic violence. And I felt that telling this kind of story through only dance is such a beautiful and powerful way to look at these troubling circumstances because it offers a unique perspective in how you can show the emotional and physical struggle

    Making this video was emotionally and physically exhausting. Luckily I had an amazing partner I could trust and felt comfortable with as we both explored this dark place. My partner is fellow professional dancer/actor Langston Fishburne, son of actor Lawrence Fishburne. I have worked with Langston for over 10 years, but embodying these emotional, complicated characters in this choreography is one of the most challenging things we have done

    “Pulling” is my fourth short film and my third film done with social purpose. My comedic political musical short film “You Can’t Do That” was a winner at the Women in Comedy Festival and the International Comedy Festival in California. Earlier this year, another of my comedic short films, “Women,” which was made to encourage women to use their voice to vote, was an Official Selection of the New Haven International Film Festival.

    “Pulling” will debut online on social media and on my website on Wednesday, July 10th.

    The end of the video offers facts about domestic violence and the number/website for I am hoping that through sharing the work online, people will think and talk about the serious issues of violence against women. I know that every 9 seconds a woman experiences abuse and violence against women is the biggest threat to the health of women under 50. These are really staggering statistics. It is just not an easy subject to deal with, but it is an important one. I am hoping that by looking at domestic violence through the art of dance, it will make it something that can be more easily shared which will in turn open more communication and help people understand the complicated reality of this kind of relationship. The goal is to get people aware and talking and hopefully move us towards progress of altering those kind of statistics.

    Thank you for taking a minute to learn about this and to watch.


    Carolyn Paine

    Contact info:

    Name: Carolyn Paine

    Collaborators: DFX Entertainment, CONNetic Dance, Other World Recording


    Phone: 617-642-3775

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