Whistle releases free online toolkit aimed at disrupting harm in dance

Whistle has announced the launch of Disrupting Harm In Dance, a free online toolkit designed to support dancers and dance institutions in addressing sexism, exploitation, abuse, ableism, white supremacy, toxic capitalism and more in the workplace. Whistle (formerly known as Whistle While You Work) is an international platform created by dancer Frances Chiaverini and activist Robyn Doty in 2017, to confront gender-based harm in dance workspaces, along with other forms of discrimination and abuse. Toolkit collaborators include Crip Movement Lap, The Dance Union, J. Bouey and OFEN Co-Arts. This toolkit is Whistle’s final project.

Frances Chiaverini. Photo by Monica Liguoro.
Frances Chiaverini. Photo by Monica Liguoro.

Disrupting Harm In Dance: How to navigate dysfunctional culture while feeling safe, connected, and empowered, was created after years of community discussions, research, surveys and working with dancers. Whistle, in partnership with collaborators, has created this self-directed online toolkit for dance professionals to gather real-life skills for navigating sexual harassment, abuse of power and various forms of discrimination, in addition to setting and maintaining boundaries, mental health, consent practices, advocacy and allyship, and community accountability. The self-directed curriculum combines the lived experiences, knowledge, and expertise of numerous performing arts and dance experts. It offers time and space for dance professionals to examine their current ideas, unlearn practices that do not serve them and develop new practices for a changing culture. The curriculum is dancer-centered, and it can be explored as an individual or as a group.

“We at Whistle love dance and love dancers even more,” said Chiaverini. “We know that there is a staggering lack of support at an institutional level for dancers experiencing abuse and discrimination.”

“We hope this resource can offer aid to individuals and direction for institutions in shaping better workspaces for dancers,” Doty added. “Knowing that this toolkit would be Whistle’s final project emphasized its importance as we created it. We are proud to share what we have learned, and the work of the brilliant activists and experts we have learned from. We hope that this resource helps to make much-needed change in the dance field.”

Doty and Chiaverini began this work together during a Fellowship Chiaverini held at PACT Zollverein in Essen, Germany, in 2017. She invited Doty to collaborate, which focused the trajectory toward shaping the workshops the two would conduct over the course of the following years at institutions in Europe, Mexico, and the USA.

Robyn Doty.
Robyn Doty.

At several internationally held open forums, Whistle organizers asked performers about abuse of power in dance. These community-based conversations illuminated pervasive issues within the culture that are deeply rooted in dance education and training. These training abuses are often repeated and amplified in the professional dance world as normalized work practices. Whistle then created programming and resources to address these issues such as harassment resource cards, a resource ‘zine and more, including a feminist library for which they distributed hundreds of free books and digital texts at Tanz Summit in Essen, Germany, and remounted again at Tanz im August in Berlin. Doty and Chiaverini have been outspoken on these issues, appearing in the ARTE documentary, Tanz, Macht, Missbrauch: Das Ende des Schweigens? (Dance, Power, Abuse: The End of Silence?).

Over the past seven years, Whistle has partnered with numerous international companies, collectives and organizations, including but not limited to: Dramaturgische Gesellschaft, Konferenz Jena, 2019; Pact Zollverein, Choreographic Center (Essen, Germany); <Interrupted = Cyfem and Queer> Berlin; Tanzplattform Rhein-Main; Frankfurt Städelschule; HfMDK, Frankfurt; Performance Space New York; LA Dance Project,; Nous Tous Gallery, LA; Goethe Institute Mexico; Tor Art Space, Frankfurt; Dancers Connect, Germany; Dance Artists’ National Collective; Zeitgenossischer Tanz Berlin; Tanz Büro Berlin; Tanz im August, Berlin; Mousonturm Frankfurt; Hochschule für Musik und Tanz Köln; Schauspielhaus Zürich.

In 2020, Whistle While You Work was awarded a Fellowship at The Center for Ballet and the Arts at New York University, and Chiaverini and Doty were able to spend dedicated time creating resources and collaborating with other game-changing dance-based organizers. With a 2021 grant from The Migros-Kulturprozent (Switzerland), Whistle worked with multiple experts to shape the online self-directed curriculum of Disrupting Harm in Dance.

For more information, visit disruptingdance.com.

The post Whistle releases free online toolkit aimed at disrupting harm in dance appeared first on Dance Informa Magazine.