There Is Room For Equality In Ballet

If you’ve been following the news lately, you may have noticed that the ballet world has been getting a rather large amount of negative press.  And for good reason.  Ballet and dance writ large are built on a foundation of toxic masculinity and that has, both historically and presently, manifested in an incredibly violent rape culture.  Of course, rape culture exists outside of ballet.  But ballet is a female-dominated industry that is run almost entirely by men, which has allowed toxic masculinity and a culture of emotional, physical, and sexual abuse to fester.  The professional world has received a lot of press: for example, Peter Martins of NYCB and Marcelo Gomes of ABT.  However, this neither begins nor ends in the professional world.  Big name ballet companies get a lot of press, but this doesn’t come out of nowhere.  From the time kids enter the ballet world, they are aggressively interpolated into the gender binary with antiquated gender roles enforced both by practices in ballet class and by roles they play in performed ballets. Continue reading “There Is Room For Equality In Ballet”

Why Does Your Computer Need A Gaydar?

Fun fact: I don’t care how accurate your algorithm is if its only clear purpose is oppression.  I don’t care how “compelling” your data is if all it serves to do is perpetuate a damaging norm.  Data is built around norms, folks.  This isn’t news.  I don’t care what “science” you think you’re contributing to or how valuable you think your inquiry is for the scientific community if the only foreseeable use for your results is endangering a group of people. Continue reading “Why Does Your Computer Need A Gaydar?”

Your Bias is in the Details

Earlier this summer, my sister and I were wandering Best Buy and she was very excited to show me a fridge that lights up when you knock on it.  I was deeply alarmed by this (and Lauren still thinks I’m being ridiculous) and went on to ramble for a good while about what I think the perils of inserting automated gestural interfaces into household technologies like fridges are.  We then saw Amazon’s Alexa, which naturally alarmed me even more for its ability to completely innervate and surveil all of your household activities.  Technology is designed to interact with us and to be interacted with, and the more we automate the processes this technology does, the more humanized the technology will become so that its ability to interact with us and be interacted with fits smoothly into our everyday lives.  And as we design technology to be humanized artificial intelligence, we insert very real human bias into our artificial intelligence. Continue reading “Your Bias is in the Details”

My Dorky Dance Love Part 2: AKA Life Lessons I’ve Learned in Improv

Hello world, and happy National Dance Day! Today I attempt to tackle the topic of some life lessons I’ve learned from having an active improvisatory practice and how this has shaped my interactions both in and out of the dance studio. In a previous post, I talked about the positive and singular environment that improv creates. Today, I’m going to talk about how this environment has taught me a bunch of life lessons that have been useful both in a dance classroom setting and in my “real world” interactions. So often we, as dancers, abstract our “dance world” experiences from our “real world” experiences. I put these both in quotes because why can’t the dance world be a part of the real world? Certainly, the dance world can feel like its own microcosm with a unique set of guidelines for interactions, but I’d argue that these are all influenced by, and also continue to influence, our real world interactions. So, some life lessons I’ve learned from improv: Continue reading “My Dorky Dance Love Part 2: AKA Life Lessons I’ve Learned in Improv”

Stop Burying Your Gays

I’ve been watching a show called Supernatural which, despite having several levels of problematics (super white washed, heteronormative, misogynistic, etc.), has managed to keep me engaged, which is a rare thing for me in a TV show. Part of the reason I’d been committed to continuing to watch was that I’d grown attached to a number of the characters (as one does on TV shows). Particularly, a super cool badass hacker woman named Charlie was introduced as a character in a later season, and I was promptly drawn in by her spunky and (shockingly, for the female characters of this show) well-rounded character. She was intelligent, funny, and all kinds of things that female characters are often not allowed to be.  She was also a lesbian, which thrilled me even more because I was like, “Wow, this show finally has some semblance of diversity!” Continue reading “Stop Burying Your Gays”

My Dorky Dance Love: AKA How Improv Helped Me Find My Niche 

I’ve written a few times about contact improv, my contact improv class, and my general dorky love for improv.  My semester recently ended, so as a sort of culminating reflection, I’m going to discuss my dorky love for improv and where that comes from.  I really only started having an active improv practice this year, and it’s done me a lot of good as a human, a dancer, and a choreographer.  I started using improv as a method of devising choreography for a piece I was working on for a student choreographed concert at my school, and realized how valuable this practice is to my growth as a dancer and understanding of myself as a human.  And just how much I love to move. Continue reading “My Dorky Dance Love: AKA How Improv Helped Me Find My Niche “

Not Your Muse, Not Your Pawn, Not Your Babe

(Note: This post often addresses gender as a male-female binary, which is a wholly limited and incorrect scope of gender and I fully acknowledge that there are more than two genders; the gender binary is referenced here to address the ways in which much of the mainstream dance world addresses gender.)

Here’s what I’m tired of: gender roles in general but specifically at this moment, the male-centered narrative that allows men to wear women as their accessories, to see them as vessels to the man’s desired end.  You see this in movies, in how roles in a household are constructed, in the workplace, and, to my eternal disappointment, very blatantly in the dance world.  Many factions of the dance world, and particularly the mainstream dance world, love to care a whole lot about centering men.  And not just centering them, but idolizing them.  They are the creators, the curators, the writers of bodies.  And women are often, at best, resigned to being their muses. Continue reading “Not Your Muse, Not Your Pawn, Not Your Babe”

Faulty Phone Algorithms: Reflections on the Idea of Home

As I’m sitting in an airport for the fifth time in two weeks, I’m thinking about the idea of home and what it means to have a home. The flux of “home” as a college student has really caused me to adjust my personal definition of the word to better suit its current purpose in my life. College, at least for me, is funny for the concept of home because I live in a dorm but I also haven’t really moved out of my home in Florida. And my dorm feels like a home but I’m reminded of my own impermanence in its existence when I put everything I own in boxes at the end of every year and move into a new dorm. And I say, “I’m going home,” when I visit my family in Florida but I also say, “I’m going home,” when I return to Providence. My phone’s algorithm, coincidentally, is equally confused about where home is for me, and has called my Florida house, my dorm, several friends’ dorms, the library, and (most recently and perhaps most appropriately) the dance studio my home. So it’s a squirrelly definition.

Continue reading “Faulty Phone Algorithms: Reflections on the Idea of Home”

The Politics of the Apolitical

I’d like to start by acknowledging that I’ve been wanting to write this blog post for a long time, but I kept finding more angles to come at this concept from, and wasn’t sure which was best.  So, with that in mind, this may be a sort of triaging of all of the angles because there’s value to all of them.  Particularly: I want to look at the performativity of objectivity in daily society, but also the labeling of anything as “apolitical” and the inherent politics in that, and also the tendency to do this to science.  So, without further ado: Continue reading “The Politics of the Apolitical”