By Theresa Ruth Howard
01 June 2020
For the last five years the dance world, and specifically the ballet world, has been enrolled in the mission to understand and implement diversity, equity and inclusion into the field at all levels. A great deal of funding has been allocated towards efforts of education and training, consultants have been hired, conferences and seminars attended.
I myself am a part of a three-year initiative, The Equity Project, which is a learning cohort of 21 ballet companies to increase the presence of Blacks in ballet. And in many ways there has been progress made. With raised awareness, core values and mission statements have been amended to reflect these aspirations; recruitment has made pipelines browner; there are more brown dancers on stages. We are not there yet, but certainly there has been progress.
And then something like the global pandemic of COVID-19 comes along and in an instant distills all of it down to a few simple choices and actions or lack thereof. What COVID has wrought upon the dance world in many ways is irreparable. The rolling effect of lockdowns resulted in unrecoverable loss of revenue for dance organizations that will undoubtedly change the landscape forever. But few could predict that this global health crisis would create the unprecedented opportunity for dance organizations who profess to be authentically committed to the work of DEI to have the veracity of their progress tested. Unfortunately right now to the Black dance community, they are failing.
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