By Sean P. Means
1 October 2020
Ballet West dancers soon will be wearing tights and shoes that more closely resemble their own skin color — an effort to push back against a white bias in the ballet world going back decades.
“I believe a more diverse and inclusive organization is a stronger Ballet West,” Adam Sklute, Ballet West’s artistic director, said in a statement issued by the troupe Thursday. “It is time we hold a mirror to ourselves and examine how our art form — and how Ballet West — can do better in dismantling systems that do not foster equity, and to institutionalize structures that do.”
The Salt Lake City-based troupe announced a series of policy changes to make Ballet West’s studio and stage “more welcoming to dancers of color.” These changes are:
• Ballet West will no longer allow makeup that indicates a race or ethnicity other than the dancer’s own.
• The troupe will no longer use historic “paling” body makeup for women in works — “Swan Lake” and “Giselle” are mentioned — whose major roles are traditionally depicted as pale white.
• The company will provide tights and shoe straps that more closely match the dancer’s skin tone.
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