Arts & Culture

A Man In A Tutu? Performance Questions Gender Roles In Dance

Choreographer Garrett Smith takes on traditional gender roles in dance with ‘Imitations,’ his piece at this year’s Dance Salad Festival.

Dance Salad - Garrett Smith's Imitations
Members of Norwegian National Ballet performing a piece called Imitations, with choreography by Garrett Smith, formerly of the Houston Ballet.

When it comes to the traditions of ballet, why do we put the woman in tutu – and not the man? That sounds absurd, right? But choreographer Garrett Smith says that’s only because that’s how we’ve always done it.

“Would it be normal for us now,” he says, “if it had been decided to put men in tutus from the very start of ballet?”

Smith wants to re-examine the way gender is represented in dance with his piece Imitations, which will be performed at Houston’s annual Dance Salad festival, which takes the stage at Zilkha Hall at the Hobby Center for the Performing Arts March 29-31.

Smith, a former dancer and choreographer for the Houston Ballet, works now with the Norwegian National Ballet. He tells Houston Matters producer Michael Hagerty about the piece and what he hopes it changes about gender roles in dance.

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Michael Hagerty

Michael Hagerty

Senior Producer, Houston Matters

Michael Hagerty is the Senior Producer for Houston Matters. He has a degree in journalism from Abilene Christian University and has served as news director for NPR and PBS stations around Texas and The West, including: KUNR-FM in Reno, Nev.; KNPB-TV in Reno, Nev.; and KWBU-TV/FM in Waco, Texas. He...

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