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Just as it is our duty to declare the lack of equality wherever we notice it, it is also fair to acknowledge equality whenever we find it. Since its foundation in 1978, the number of male and female members of the creative team and cast of the Ballet Nacional de España has been nearly equal.

Although it is true that we have not as yet had a woman guitarist, the number of women is also the same, or even larger, in the crew and the administration department, from stage management to production, communications, or props.

It should be highlighted that managerial tasks, the positions with the highest responsibilities in the Ballet Nacional de España, have been taken on by women in four out of the ten occasions when directors have changed. Moreover, if we count them individually, there have been six women against five men directing the BNE, as one of the directions was shared by three women and one of the male directors held the position twice.

The first woman to take up this task, a few years after the Ballet Nacional de España was set up in 1983, was María de Ávila. She was appointed director of the Ballet Nacional Clásico, today Compañía Nacional de Danza, at the same time. This was the only time both companies shared their director.

Having taught Víctor Ullate, Arantxa Argüelles, Carmen Roche or Trinidad Sevillano, she transformed both companies and encouraged internationalisation, circulation, and changing the repertoires. Better known as a dancer and classical dance teacher, she felt at ease in both disciplines as she had also trained in escuela bolera with Julia Castelao and Pamela Pamiés.

Under her directorship, the BNE premiered three of its most emblematic shows: Medea, an adaptation of the classic myth by José Granero, with music by Manolo Sanlúcar and script by Miguel Narros; Mariemma’s Danza y tronío, a true tribute to escuela bolera; and Ritmos by Alberto Lorca.

In 1986 she was replaced by José Antonio and in 1993 another woman took up the position. This time the Ballet Nacional de España was led by three women. Aurora Pons, Victoria Eugenia 'Betty' and Nana Lorca made up a triumvirate until 1997, when Aurora Pons took up the coordination while Betty focused on the artistic section and Nana Lorca took charge of programming. The three of them had been previously involved with the BNE as performers, creators and above all, mistresses.

Aurora Pons, who had been first artist at the Liceo de Barcelona and had danced with Luisillo, Antonio el Bailarín, and Pilar López, joined the BNE as mistress with Antonio Gades. Victoria Eugenia 'Betty' was also a mistress after having trained with the Pericet family and Karen Taft. In addition to her teaching position, her work as choreographer both for the BNE repertoire and for artists like María Rosa, Lola Flores or Paquita Rico is also noteworthy. Her best remembered creations include Danza IX (1985), Chacona (1990) and Viva Navarra (1978). For her part, before becoming a member of this triumvirate, Nana Lorca had been assistant director with José Antonio since 1987, in addition to principal dancer in the companies of Pilar López and José Greco.

In short, the three of them contributed their broad experience as performers, choreographers and managers which resulted in the BNE premiering solos like A mi aire choreographed by Betty with music by Enrique Granados, or La oración del torero with Joaquín Turina’s music. During the five years of their mandate, they contributed wide variety and stylistic diversity to the repertoire, carefully shaping the personality of the BNE.

In 1998, Aída Gómez was twice a pioneer as she was the first Ballet Nacional de España dancer to be elected director and was also the youngest person to have taken up the post at just 31. Her power, boldness and discipline attracted the attention of Antonio Ruiz Soler, who had introduced her in the company in 1982. She trained in classical and Spanish dance with Merche Esmeralda, Juanjo Linares, Carmina Ocaña, Manolete, Victoria Eugenia and Maurice Bejart. Noteworthy in her period as BNE first artist is the pas a deux Puerta de Tierra, which she danced with José Antonio.

The commemoration of the BNE’s 20th anniversary in 1998 was a declaration of the principles that she was to follow: the search for a balance between the revival of emblematic pieces of the repertoire, like Rafael Aguilar’s Rango, and Antonio el Bailarín’s classic Eritaña and the premiere of innovative choreographies, like Poeta by Javier Latorre, a tribute to Rafael Alberti with stage design by La Fura dels Baus and costumes by Devota & Lomba.

During this period, Aída Gómez continued to develop as a performer and also contributed several of her own choreographies to the BNE repertoire, as for instance, Silencio rasgado. As director of her own company since 2001 she has continued to encourage these two aspects in the show Salomé, with Carlos Saura as stage director and in her following shows. She was awarded the Premio Nacional de Danza de Interpretación [National Dance Award for Performance] in 2004 and directed the Madrid en Danza festival until 2020.

She was succeeded by Elvira Andrés, who was a BNE dancer under the directorship of Antonio Gades, a figure she has always been closely related with. She had left the Ballet Nacional to join Antonio Gades’s company when he gave up the directorship in 1981. She has won Madrid’s Certamen Coreográfico de Danza Española y Flamenco on two occasions and set up her own company with which she staged Bodas de sangre by her master Gades. Elvira Andrés took charge of the Ballet Nacional de España in 2001.

During her directorship, Elvira Andrés reinforced plurality in the company’s repertoire, adjusting Spanish dance to the current stylistic needs and concerns and she also encouraged the creation of new pieces by young creators. She revived major pieces like Concierto de Aranjuez by Pilar López, who personally supervised the revival of a show that the company had not danced in the last 25 years. She also put on again Fuenteovejuna by Antonio Gades. She delved into the past to place bailaor Juan Sánchez, el Estampío back where he belongs in the history of zapateado, and she invited María Pagés or Teresa Nieto, artists who are interested in researching in Spanish and contemporary dance, to stage Ilusiones FM and Mareas for the BNE. She also found time to revive her own choreography Mujeres and premiere Colores.

After leaving her position as director in 2004, she focused on teaching. She has worked at the prestigious training centre Amor de Dios in Madrid and currently teaches at the Conservatorio Superior de Danza María de Ávila in Madrid.

These six women, like those to come will do too, amply demonstrated the strength, intelligence, and courage necessary to lead a company like the Ballet Nacional de España.