Arts & Theater

Sacramento Ballet focuses on steps toward gender equality in its new season

Sacramento Ballet is doing something different this year. The ballet’s 2019-20 season – titled Sights Unseen, which kicks off Thursday night with “Mozart in Motion” – features works largely choreographed by women.

“Sights Unseen” features pieces choreographed in a range of ballet styles, some classical and others more contemporary, according to Artistic Director Amy Seiwert. The company will perform “Mozart in Motion,” “The Nutcracker,” “Beer and Ballet,” “Homegrown: A Festival of New Works,” and “Fast Forward” between October and May.

“This season we do offer something that will appeal to each audience member, ‘The Nutcracker’ is family focused, ‘Mozart in Motion’ is classical, ‘Homegrown’ has all new work and ‘Fast Forward’ is contemporary and will feature interactive video technology,” Seiwert said.

Seiwert has been working hard to change the status quo since she took the role of artistic director in 2018. The company has been recognized as a leader in the gender equity movement sweeping through dance companies across the nation.

According to the Dance Data Project, a group dedicated to documenting gender-related issues in dance, a study in July found 79 percent of the works planned by the largest 50 ballet companies in the nation for the 2019-2020 ballet seasons are choreographed by men.

The Sacramento Ballet topped the list for presenting works choreographed by women this season – tied with New York City’s American Ballet Theater at 67 percent, the Dance Data Project found. The company also made the list for the 2018-2019 season.

“The Top 10 companies for staging work by women in both seasons are: American Ballet Theatre, Cincinnati Ballet, Eugene Ballet Company, Hubbard Street Dance Chicago and Sacramento Ballet,” the Dance Data Project report said. “There was 1 female-choreographed full-length world premiere for the 2018-2019 season, Sacramento Ballet’s commission of The Nutcracker, by artistic director Amy Seiwert.”

Seiwert said she is excited to be leading changes in gender equity at a large ballet company, especially since women have not typically been represented in many companies’ leadership.

“Ballet, as a field, historically has had issues with female inclusion at the leadership level,” Seiwert said. “Trends are slowly changing. But where the change is most apparent is in some of the smaller companies across the United States. I am proud that of the top 50 ballet companies in the country, Sacramento Ballet is at the forefront of commissioning works by women.”

Choreography isn’t the only thing that sets the Sacramento Ballet apart from other companies. The Dance Data Project found 72 percent of large ballet companies are led by a male artistic director. Though Seiwert is a leader in a male-dominated field, she said she feels supported and is excited to be giving opportunities to other minority groups in ballet.

“I’m just doing my job, I feel supported by my male peers and the board of directors,” Seiwert said. “But you do sort of feel a responsibility to open as many doors to those who haven’t been given as many opportunities before.”

If you go

Mozart in Motion

When: Thursday through Sunday

Where: The Sofia Theatre

Cost: $65 (Sunday’s matinee is sold out)

Tickets: B Street Theatre

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