Barnes is absolutely right about mid-late 20th century. The era of Martha Graham and Doris Humphrey, Sophie Maslow (who just died), Anna Sokolow -- not to mention Isadora, who didn't need a company
-- when women were the creative LEADERS is quite over. Women were also the founders of many of the companies started in the 20th century: Virginia Williams in Boston, the Littlefields in Philadelphia, many others -- not to mention Ninette de Valois. de Valois, a woman of her time, once said that women were the ones to build a company, but when it achieved a certain stature, it was time for the men to take over. I'd have a different take on that: women will work 80 hour weeks for nothing -- often, during the 30s and 40s, because they were married and "their men" supported them financially. They're also willing to scrub the floors, sew the costumes, choreograph the ballets, fundraise, hire the dancers -- in short, be a one-woman band, making the start-up of a company quite cheap. Men are less likely to be in the same situation, or be willing to take on ALL the jobs, the grunt work as well as the high-profile aspects. (It's always a shock to the male DCA presidents when they find out they're expected to run the meetings, plan the conferences AND stuff the envelopes and make the phonecalls
Now, now, some of my best friends are men....
Today in ballet, there are very few company directors. Farrell has her own company but it's quite small and with a small budget. When I did the first Ballet Alert! newsletters, one of the most eye-opening (in many ways) tasks was to compile the company season calendars. In doing so, I looked at every American ballet company's web site and found a huge gender divide. Small companies, very small companies, civic companies, are nearly all directed by women. Mid-size to large companies nearly all have male directors. Follow the money
Another anecdote regarding perceptions of gender. When Baryshnikov began to stage ballets at ABT, he had two assistants (one man, one woman). This was considered natural -- and, in fact, is. Nearly everyone who stages a ballet needs assistants; there just isn't enough time for one person to conduct every rehearsal, and besides, it's good to have another eye. Often one person is detailed to the corps, another to principals, a third to crowd scenes, etc. (Guess who gets to direct the corps.) When Makarova staged a ballet for ABT, I was in a discussion with several American critics, all men, who were downplaying her achievement, saying, "She can't do it alone. She needs an assistant." I had one of those famous Ms. Magazine "clicks" and asked why when a man staged a ballet with assistants this was right and proper and when a woman had an assistant she was thought incapable of doing it on her own. Being extremely intelligent, sensitive and sensible men, they all said, "That's a good point!'