Through the Glass Ceiling: A Contemporary Ballet Collaboration

As the founder of, I often meet really talented people in our community doing awesome work in their respective fields and industries. When my friend, ballerina and choreographer Ivy Chow, contacted me one day asking if I knew any composers of Taiwanese heritage that might collaborate with her on a new performance project about “breaking glass ceilings,” I immediately thought of another friend, composer George Shaw, known for his many compositions and scores for popular YouTube stars. They would be perfect partners in this endeavor given that each was relatively under-represented in their respective Arts. When you think about it, how many Taiwanese Americans or Asian Americans can you think of who are ballet dancers or orchestral composers? Both Ivy and George also happened to be previously featured in’s “100 Passionate People” project in 2010, but had never met since they were living on opposite coasts. An introduction was made, a partnership was born, and an amazing opportunity for both creators would ensue: For Ivy, she would be able to showcase her talents as an Asian American female choreographer in the world of ballet; for George, this would be his first-ever ballet composition.

Creating the Music of Through the Glass Ceiling from IC Movement Project on Vimeo.

I caught up with Ivy Chow months later as the debut of her show approached. I could sense her excitement after all these months of cross-country collaboration with George Shaw, so I wanted to hear more from her about the journey. Read our interview below:

H: Ivy! It’s amazing to check in with you again and see that this project really took off! You did it!

I: It really could not have happened if it wasn’t for you Ho Chie – THANK YOU!

H: For our audience out there, would you tell us a little bit about this ballet company you founded?

ivychowI: Yes! Ivy Chow Movement Project (I.C. Movement Project) is a contemporary ballet company motivated to tell truths through the use of professional dancers, designers and artists. I am the Artistic Director and Choreographer, and I join the ranks of the few female choreographic voices out there today in the traditionally male-dominated world of ballet. Our performances are designed to be project-based in the ever transient city of Washington DC, where I live. As an advocate for the voice of women in the Arts, I’m all about transcending ideas into action. So basically, our mission is to share and educate audiences on the empowering expression of dance that will enrich diverse audiences in the greater Washington DC area.

H: You’ve been telling me about this idea of yours for years, and now “Through the Glass Ceiling” is ready to debut! So exciting! Take us back to the seeds of the idea and your motivation.

I: This ballet came to fruition with my MFA research while at The George Washington University in Dance. I initially wanted to research the lack of Asian choreographers but my search lead me to the lack of females choreographing and running ballet companies. For instance, the New York City Ballet with a $60M budget did not have one female choreographer in their season and that American Ballet Theatre with a $40M budget only had one Twyla Tharp piece they were presenting in this past 2015-2016 season. So, I started my dance company to join the short list of female choreographers and directors. As I searched for more information about gender inequality in ballet, I realized that this is more than a ballet issue–it’s a societal problem.

H: That’s very interesting. Often, when we watch ballet, we often imagine the female performers, but we never think about who is choreographing or projecting their ideas. It’s great that you’re able to tackle these themes of inequality with your own creativity and talent.

I: Exactly. And, given the ideals and power-structures ingrained in Western patriarchal society, we’ve learned that the fight against gender inequality cannot be achieved by women alone. We have a long way to go in the name of progress and unfortunately the stigma associated with the “feminist” label has often deterred society from claiming the word. True feminism is the advocacy of women’s rights on the grounds of political, social, and economic equality to men. Feminism should be synonymous with gender equality. All people, regardless of gender, must unite in the fight to change the glass ceiling, wage gap, parental leave, and other inequalities. The HEforSHE campaign facilitated by the United Nations exemplifies a powerful way to fight for change with their mission to de-stigmatize feminism and focus on equality. “Through the Glass Ceiling” is built from these same values and with these same goals.

H: Quite admirable, indeed. Well, I’m so very proud of you and your work! It’s amazing to see how you and George worked on this together. You are both definitely breaking new ground and helping us to imagine the possibilities of cross-collaborations within the Taiwanese American community!

I: It’s been so exciting to work with someone who is as passionate about creating music as I am about creating dance. I’m excited for possible future collaborations.

H: So, tell us about the performance and details!

I: “Through the Glass Ceiling” is premiering this weekend, August 6-7, 2016. It’s a ballet that investigates our society’s systemic gender inequality. The piece was created to spark a dialogue about gender parity and to compel audiences and patrons to fight for a paradigm shift. I welcome you into the conversation!

H: Thanks so much!

I: Thank you for sharing this amazing project that George and I have been working so hard on!

Studio Theater of Strathmore, 5301 Tuckerman Lane, North Bethesda, MD 20852.
August 6, 7:30pm
August 7, 2:00pm


$20 for students and artists; $30 General; $35 at the door

MORE INFO on I.C. Movement Project:

The start of I.C. Movement Project from IC Movement Project on Vimeo.

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