Judith Mackrell has had an incredible career as a dance critic and as a writer. When it comes to dance, particularly in the UK, Judith’s expertise, knowledge and commentary is cherished.
Judith studied a degree in English Literature at University, and was exploring life as an academic when things started to shift. Dance has since become an incredible passion. Judith started writing for The Observer and just finished writing for the Guardian UK. She has authored the books 'Bloomsbury Ballerina', ' Flappers: Six Women of a Dangerous Generation’ and 'The Unfinished Palazzo: Life, Love and Art in Venice'.
I met Judith on a day where there was a good 20cm of snow on the ground outside as it fell steadily throughout the interview. It was the week of the Beast from the East, that left the people of the UK shivering through their coldest week in over 8 years.
In this interview we covered a range of territory, primarily centered on gender equality and dance. We discussed the structures of dance, looking at the numbers of men being given choreographic opportunities over women, the #METOO movement and ways in which we might think and agitate for change.
Judith has some great advice for female dancers:
“Sounds like a Hallmark Card, but focus on what your gift is, what your talent is, what you are. Know that if someone’s offered you a job it is because they have seen something individual in you and try and cherish that. […] Don’t try and be someone else. […] There is nothing more exciting than seeing a dancer who is completely individual. They don’t need to be perfect, but to have that flame inside.”
For male dancers or men in the industry Judith suggests that change will come from men, “simply by being aware”. Also, that it is the responsibility for men to speak up for women and “recognise when a woman’s confidence is failing a little bit.”
There is something wonderful about speaking to thinkers and writers about dance. Their perspectives and insights add so much colour the world of dance. If you enjoyed this episode, you will also enjoy this one from Deborah Jowitt from New York.
You can read a range of Judith’s writing on the issue of Gender Equality in Dance, but also check out her wonderful reviews:
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This season has been produced to complement a special report exploring gender equality in Australian Dance. You can find the full report: Turning Pointe: Gender Equality in Australian Dance at https://www.delvingintodance.com/turning-pointe. This season focuses on international voices about gender equality in dance. Check out previous interviews from Deborah Jowett, Gideon Obarzanek, Rafael Bonachela, Lucy Guerin, Anouk van Dijk, David McAllister & Damian Jalet. You can now find Delving into Dance on Facebook, as well as Twitter and iTunes.
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