Diversity Within The Dance Industry
By Hannah Courtney Thomas: Dance Society President
Inclusive. That’s one word we would use to describe the environment we create Swansea University’s Dance Society. At our Dance Society we have always taken pride in encouraging diversity. To put this into perspective for you, we have over 200 members every year. Despite the fact that we, like so many other societies and sports teams, find ourselves in a very different and surreal reality this academic year, we are pleasantly surprised to see more and more members, particularly from various ethnic backgrounds, join us daily.
To put it simply, everyone is welcome. Why should those who wish to join us be made to feel as though they would not ‘fit in’ just because of their ethnicity? They should not. Why should those who wish to join us worry about having a different accent, ethnicity or background? They should not.
Styles of dance originate from all over the world … There are too many to name. Over the years, Swansea University’s Dance Society has offered several classes to reflect this such as: Kizomba; Modern Greek; Bollywood and Irish Hard/Soft-shoe to name a few. Generally, we also offer levelled classes (Beginners, Intermediate and Advanced) namely in: Jazz; Contemporary; Hip Hop; Ballet and Tap. It is not only our dance styles that are diverse, but, our selected student teachers also reflect the inclusivity we promote here at the Dance Society.
Dance gives people a voice without the need to speak. Through movement alone, dancers can say a lot without the need for people to listen, visually a lot can be learnt simply through dance. Many professional dancers are advocates for diversity in the competitive world of dance and are, in turn, inspirations to dancers such as ourselves at the Dance Society.
One of these inspirations are the well-known dance group, Diversity (ironic, we know). As many of you may already know, they stood in solidarity and performed, on the ITV talent show ‘Britain’s Got Talent,’ a powerful piece of choreography. This piece saw Ashley Banjo and his crew speak out, particularly against racism in which a voice-over stated: “another disease, deep-rooted in our system, fear, hate and ignorance, but racism was the symptom.” It is unfortunate to think that when it comes to matters as relevant as racism, it appears as though, in the eyes of Diversity (at least), movement alone is not enough to get people to listen up.
On a more positive note, there are clear advancements in the world of dance reflective of the acceptance of those from ethnic backgrounds. In 2015, Misty Copeland made history by becoming the first African-American woman to be promoted to the role of principal dancer at American Ballet Theatre, one of the world’s top ballet companies. However, Copeland once admitted that “when it comes to the ballet world, it’s always been extremely challenging for minorities to exist and to thrive.” This is a sad truth, but here at Swansea University Dance Society we aim to eradicate anyone who joins us to feel as though, similarly to what Copeland stated, they do not exist or that they cannot thrive. We want everyone to thrive. We want everyone to feel as though they exist.
We welcome everyone. Whatever background. Whatever ethnicity. Everyone can belong at Swansea University’s Dance Society.
Image: The York Press