The Royal Opera House launches a month-long line-up of performances, films and events to celebrate International Women’s Day (Friday 8 March 2024). Drawing on the official theme of #InspireInclusion, the programme champions the incredible women who perform, create, and facilitate the work on and off our stages, and gives voice to the conversation around what it is like to be a woman in the creative industries.

Colliding Forces: Mothers in Ballet, dir. Eliza Schroeder

Tuesday 5 March

Colliding Forces: Mothers in Ballet, a new film directed by Eliza Schroeder, will receive a special screening in the Clore Studio. This film explores the experiences of dancers who are also mothers, and the challenges of navigating their careers alongside motherhood. Schroeder’s previous work includes Love Sarah, inspired by her relationship with her late mother, which premiered in cinemas in 2020 to critical acclaim.

Friday 8 March

Beginning at 12:30pm in the Crush Room, the panel discussion Women in Technical Theatre is a free, ticketed event that will focus on the challenges and opportunities for women working in technical roles in theatre. It will be led by ROH Director of Technical, Production & CostumeEmma Wilson MBE.

At 2:30pm, The Royal Opera’s Engender network hosts a public, specially curated panel discussion, The Diva and the Hag. This event explores how we challenge ageism and sexism in opera, as well as how to ensure more intersectional and equitable futures for the women working on the Royal Opera House stages. Fay Jennett chairs this lively discussion with writer and campaigner Nicky Clark, and actor Rose Knox-Peebles, who made headlines in her portrayal of Erda in The Royal Opera’s Das Rheingold.  

Year-round, The Royal Opera’s Engender initiative amplifies the work of women and non-binary people in opera enabling connection and support through its network as well as space and opportunity for personal and professional development, peer support and the creation of new work; the network now has members worldwide.

The day closes with theLondon premiere of Giant, a radical new opera by composer Sarah Angliss. Directed by Sarah Fahie, and with a libretto by Ross SutherlandGiant tells the true story of surgeon John Hunter and his obsession with Charles Byrne, the 18th-century “Irish giant” who was betrayed in the name of science.

Maria Fusco and Margaret Salmon.

History of the Present, 2023.

Over on Royal Opera House Stream, International Women’s Day is celebrated with the release two films marking the powerful creative impact of women on the arts. Maria Fusco’s History of the Present, a groundbreaking opera-film exploring the trauma of the Troubles in Northern Ireland. The performance focuses on the peace line in Belfast, where Fusco herself grew up, and forefronts working-class and marginalised voices. The Royal Ballet’s recent Insight, The Legacy of Nijinska, looks back on the remarkable career and life of Bronislava Nijinska, who changed the landscape of ballet during her lifetime. Discussion and rehearsal of key works, including her masterpiece Les Noces, illuminate the vision of a feminist icon.

Saturday 9 March

International Women’s Day will be marked by the return of the HerStory of the Royal Opera House tour. Looking back over hundreds of years of history, learn about the women who have managed, directed, and shaped both artistic Companies, as well as the women who have steered our iconic home in Covent Garden through tumultuous and exciting periods of our history, and contributed to the vibrancy of our art forms.

Thursday 21/Friday 22 March

The Royal Ballet presents the London premiere of California Connections: Three Pioneering Women. Performed by Yorke Dance Project, this mixed programme celebrates female dance trailblazers Isadora DuncanMartha Graham and Bella Lewitzky. The programme also includes a world premiere by Yolande Yorke-Edgell which was fittingly created in California.

More information about the global day is available at International Women’s Day 2024.