UK Dance school bans ballet auditions in bid to make curriculum gender neutral

UK Dance school bans ballet auditions in bid to make curriculum gender neutral. Image: Stock Holm/

Ballet auditions have been dropped as the school dubs it ‘white’ and ‘elitist’ and rooted in ‘white European ideas’.

Regarding the cancellation of Ballet auditions the Northern School of Contemporary Dance (NSCD) based in Leeds, England, said: “We review content and have removed ballet from our audition day due to its potentially contentious nature,” according to GB News on Sunday, July 17.

Francesca McCarthy, head of undergraduate studies at the NSCD, told The Telegraph: “It is essentially an elitist form.”

“Young people need to pay to take ballet classes as a general rule and for a vast number of potential students, they’ve not had access to ballet,” she said.

“It is a very specific form that is built around particular white European ideas and body shapes that are often alienating to young people who do not fit that aesthetic ideal.”

Francesca McCarthy added: “There are issues relating to body, money, language and movement vocabulary.”

Gender distinctions in terminology such as “ballerina” for women and “danseur” for men – and the everyday use of “men and women” or “girls and boys” in dance classes – were also criticised.

Ms McCarthy confirmed that: “Ballet has strongly gendered roots in terms of the movement vocabulary.”

“Most of our ballet staff were trained at a time where divisions in the teaching of ballet were clear and men lifted women.”

“There was a shift to ladies and gentleman over time but this is still problematic in relation to the inclusion of non-binary and trans dancers.”

The NSCD now encourages staff to use gender-neutral terms such as “dancers” and “people,” Francesca McCarthy explained.

Teachers are briefed to “try and embed the use of they in terms of pronouns in order to not make assumptions about a dancer’s identity”.

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Anna Ellis

Originally from the UK, Anna is based on the Costa Blanca and is a web reporter for The Euro Weekly News covering international and Spanish national news. Got a news story you want to share? Then get in touch at