Photo by Aliza Hoover
In 2018, dancers Hannah Klinkman and Louisa Mejeur started the Rhode Island Women’s Choreography Project (RIWCP) with the help of an anonymous donor and studio sponsorship from Festival Ballet Providence. The first year gave eight women from around the state the chance to choreograph a dance work. For some of them, it was the first time they had ever had the chance to choreograph. The event raised almost $800, which the directors decided to donate to the Sojourner House of RI. Thus, the second part of RIWCP's mission focusing on partnerships in the local community was born.
In its second year, RIWCP was expanded to include twelve female-identifying choreographers and over thirty dancers, and partnered with the Women’s Fund of RI. The event included dancers from Festival Ballet, Island Moving Company, North Atlantic Dance Theatre, and multiple local freelance artists, selling out a weekend of performances at the AS220 Blackbox.
The COVID-19 pandemic stopped plans for a 2020 project short as the world scrambled to rearrange and redefine "normal". RIWCP took a year to evaluate its goals and build a plan for the future. In 2021, we presented a virtual program, in which six women choreographers from all over the country presented new works as dance films. This was also the inaugural year of the RIWCP mentorship program, providing the dance creators with an additional resource to deepen their creative process.
Our structure is to provide participants with studio space and dancers, both of which are hard to come by and expensive for choreographers who are not yet well-established. A three week rehearsal period culminates in a public performance. Through providing a platform for women to grow and gain confidence in a male-dominated field, as well as partnering with local nonprofits in various sectors, we hope to help close the gender gap that exists not only in the dance world, but in many communities.
This Season's Statistics:
There are 553 works programmed by the Largest 50 (U.S. based ballet and classically influenced companies):
20% are choreographed by women
76% are choreographed by men
2% are choreographed by other/mixed gender
2% are choreographed by choreographers
whose gender is unknown