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Breaking Barriers and Making History: Celebrating Women in Dance

As we celebrate Women’s History Month, it’s important to recognize the countless female dancers and stage performers who have broken barriers and paved the way for generations to come. From the early pioneers of modern dance like Isadora Duncan and Martha Graham, to the fierce and boundary-breaking pop icons like Beyoncé and Janet Jackson, women have always been at the forefront of the dance world.

For today’s dancers and performers, the legacy of these women is both an inspiration and a responsibility. It’s a reminder that anything is possible with hard work, dedication, and a little bit of grit.

So to all the girls and women out there who are pursuing their dreams on stage, this is for you. You are part of a rich and powerful history that has shaped the dance world in countless ways. You are carrying the torch for the next generation of dancers, inspiring them with your grace, strength, and talent.

But beyond that, you are also breaking new ground every day. You are pushing the boundaries of what it means to be a dancer, challenging the status quo, and creating new and exciting forms of expression.

So keep dancing, keep pushing, and keep inspiring. Remember that you are part of something bigger than yourself, and that your work has the potential to inspire others and make a real difference in the world. Embrace your unique talents and strengths, and know that you have what it takes to achieve greatness. 

As we celebrate Women’s History Month, let’s honour the past while also looking towards a future that is filled with even more incredible, talented, and trailblazing women. 

The stage is yours, ladies. Let’s make history.

Here are 7 female stage performers for some inspiration

1. Raven Wilkinson

was an African-American ballerina who broke barriers in the world of classical ballet during a time of racial segregation in the United States. Born in 1935 in New York City, Wilkinson began studying ballet at a young age and later became a member of the Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo, one of the most prestigious dance companies of the time. Despite facing discrimination and prejudice, Wilkinson continued to perform and paved the way for future generations of Black ballet dancers. She later taught dance and became an advocate for diversity in the arts. Wilkinson passed away in 2018 at the age of 83, but her legacy as a pioneering dancer and trailblazer for racial equality in ballet continues to inspire dancers today.

2. Anna Pavlova

was a trailblazing ballerina and one of the most iconic dancers of the 20th century. Born in Russia in 1881, Pavlova began her training at a young age and quickly rose to fame for her incredible talent and grace on stage. She became a principal dancer with the Imperial Ballet in St. Petersburg and later went on to found her own company, the Pavlova Company, which toured the world and helped to popularize ballet as an art form in the United States and other countries. Pavlova was known for her ethereal quality, her exquisite technique, and her ability to convey emotion and tell a story through her movements. She inspired countless dancers with her artistry and dedication to her craft, and her legacy continues to live on today, more than 100 years after her death.

3. Josephine Baker

was an iconic dancer, singer, and actress who broke down barriers and challenged the norms of her time. Born in St. Louis, Missouri in 1906, Baker began her career as a chorus girl before moving to Paris and becoming a sensation in the 1920s. She was known for her exotic dances, elaborate costumes, and playful personality. Beyond her entertainment career, Baker was also an activist who fought against racism and segregation. She was awarded the Croix de Guerre and the Legion of Honor for her work with the French Resistance during World War II. Baker’s legacy as a inspiring entertainer and humanitarian has continued to inspire generations.

4. Margot Fonteyn

was a British ballerina who is considered to be one of the greatest dancers of the 20th century. Born in 1919 in Surrey, England, Fonteyn began her ballet training at a young age and joined the Sadler’s Wells Ballet (now the Royal Ballet) in 1934. She quickly rose to prominence, becoming a principal dancer in 1941. Fonteyn was known for her grace, elegance, and technical ability, and she performed in many of the most famous ballets, including Swan Lake and The Sleeping Beauty. Beyond her dance career, Fonteyn was also an ambassador for the arts, working to promote ballet and dance around the world. Her legacy as a progressive dancer has continued to inspire generations of dancers and audiences.

5. Martha Graham

 an American modern dancer and choreographer who revolutionized dance in the 20th century. Born in 1894 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Graham began her dance training at a young age and later developed her own unique style of movement. Her work was characterized by sharp angles, dramatic gestures, and a focus on emotional expression. She founded the Martha Graham Dance Company in 1926, and her choreography was known for its power and intensity. Beyond her dance career, Graham was also an advocate for the arts and helped to establish the National Endowment for the Arts in the United States. Her legacy as a pioneering dancer and choreographer has continued to influence modern dance and inspire generations of dancers.

6. Margie Gillis

is a Canadian contemporary dancer known for her unique and expressive style of dance. Born in 1953 in Montreal, Quebec, Gillis began her dance training at a young age and later studied at the Juilliard School in New York City. She became known for her improvisational style and her ability to convey complex emotions through movement. In addition to her work as a performer, Gillis has been an advocate for dance education and has worked with many organizations to promote the arts. She has received numerous awards for her contributions to dance, including the Order of Canada, and her legacy as a groundbreaking dancer has continued to inspire generations of Canadian artists.

7. Karen Kain

is a Canadian ballet dancer and artistic director who has had a significant impact on the world of dance. Born in Hamilton, Ontario in 1951, Kain began studying ballet at a young age and went on to become a principal dancer with the National Ballet of Canada in 1971. She quickly became known for her technical skill and artistry, performing leading roles in a wide range of classical and contemporary ballets. Kain retired from dancing in 1997 and went on to become the artistic director of the National Ballet of Canada, a role she has held since 2005. Under her leadership, the company has continued to push boundaries and showcase new works while also preserving the classics. Kain has received numerous awards for her contributions to dance, including the Order of Canada, and her legacy as a groundbreaking dancer and visionary leader continues to inspire generations of dancers and arts enthusiasts.

Let’s honour the incredible contributions of women like Raven Wilkinson, Anna Pavlova, Margot Fonteyn, Karen Kain and more, celebrate the countless women who have made a lasting impact on the world of dance.

Launched in 2015, Stagebeautyco is a customizable and full service makeup line designed specifically for performance teams. We work with dance teams from beginning to end to create bold and unique makeup looks, custom kits, step by step video tutorials, easy online ordering and more! To learn more about our line and service, visit www.stagebeauty.co 

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