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Gender Inequality in the Dance Industry

Patricia Tjørnelund loves to dance. What she does not love is having to abide by different rules of the game just because she is female.

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“There are still definite perceptions of how women should behave and dress compared to male dancers,” says the Copenhagen-based dancer. “Take the ‘Magic Mike’ show for example, where men are scantily clad yet their sensuality is applauded. Women in the same setting are typically ‘slut shamed’. That should not be the case.”

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Patricia has been dancing ever since she was 3 years old. “Dancing is not just something I do, it is my whole identity,” she says.

In recent years, Patricia has danced in several TV programs such as Dancing with the Stars and Eurovision. She has also appeared in several music videos and musicals such as Dirty Dancing, Tarzan and most recently Flashdance at the Opera in Copenhagen. Patricia is also a dance instructor and choreographer in Latin dance genres such as salsa, bachata, ChaChaCha, but also in jazz and commercial dance.

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Equal payment for different time

According to Patricia, women and men who have an approximately equal role in an ensemble receive equal pay. However, what you do not count on are the extra hours women spend in the make-up chair, and for hair styling and wig application, every single day before a show.

“This time is not compensated for, even though it usually amounts to 24-48 hours of extra work in a month,” she explains.

The requirement for high heels causes early injuries

Another bias Patricia points out is the requirement to dance in high heels for women.

“Having to dance in high heels puts a lot of strain on the feet and legs,” says Patricia, who has been dancing in heels since she was 13 years old. “It can create wear and tear and cause injuries that lead to a career suddenly saying stop.

Patricia continues to be vocal about the imbalances in the dance industry in hopes of driving and creating change. Share your dance story with us and Patricia too, using #GirlsWillBeGirls on social media.

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