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Minorities in Ballet

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Thank you "mom" and Mel for your input on the topic.Perhaps you're right and it is an issue of "old" versus "New" .My question is now this...What happens when a new AD comes into a company and cleans house so to speak,but assures dancers who have been there a while and that have been re-hired , that they are in his/her vision,and then doesn't follow through?If a new artistic director is appointed to a company and presumably gets rid of everyone they don't want,then why not use people you supposedly want?This question is not pointed at only the minorities,but the rest of the people who aren't used...As for the "vision" Boston Ballet will not be a company to represent the city of Boston if it does not use "Noticably" black dancers onstage. I say this because they have their outreach program and many of the children stay because they find someone who looks like them onstage.What happens when the little darkskinned girl looks up to see nobody that looks like her?To the best of my knowledge,there is only one African American person in the company and she is not used.The company seems to be doing ok with Asians and the new Latinos...a couple of Russians,but what about the black people?Are there no good Black dancers in the states who would want to work in Boston?There hasn't been a black man in the company since the late 90's .The man in question was again grossly underused and went to Beja'rt...SO maybe it is this...if you are black and look it,there might not be a future for you,but if you blend in enough,the skys' the limit...I don't want to seem biased,but I guess I am.Lauren Anderson of Houston Ballet is the reason I am such an advocate.She was to my knowledge the only noticably African American Principal dancer in the united States(outside of Dance Theatre of Harlem) and it worries me that it will not continue.If I seemed harsh in my earlier post it was more out of confusion than anything.I know Boston Ballet and what it once was and I worry that it will not continue on the path that Bruce Marks and even E. Virginia Williams before him,chose...Racial tension and inequality have always been high in Boston.I am just waiting for the director who will throw that all out the window and really look at their dancers for their differences , not only their similarities.If I have offended anyone,I am sorry.As I said earlier,I am just trying to figure some things out.This does bring to mind earlier questions about the departures of the Black women at NYCB.You can't deny the similarities..How can a director who supposedly hired them,not have anything in mind for their futures???And then they leave out of frustration....I just want to know if someone has an answer...

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This is one of those "out of the mouths of babes" kinds of experiences, but I am reminded of a number of years ago when I handed out coloring pages to my little ballerinas (the pre-school bunch). I should preface that I teach in a city where I have an unusual mix of children, partly as a function of the Creole heritage. I have taught so many exotic looking, gorgeous little girls with all variety of features and coloring. And you would be amazed at how many adults I've met who tell me they have mixed ancestry. They even have a term here -- "can't tells" -- to describe themselves. Anyway, the coloring pages were from a ballet coloring book that features famous dancers of the ages. I don't recall the classical dancer who was "Firebird" in this book, but the children brought back the pages they had colored the following week, and you never saw such a range of coloring of the dancer on the page. No one had ever suggested to these children that this particular ballerina was white, or that any ballerina for that matter, was necessarily white, and so the children, being the innocents that they are, simply colored the pages in their own respective images. Wonderful.

I do recall a teacher of mine who was quite famous in his day and ended his career teaching at a university dance program. He was talking to me one day about a black woman in the department and how by virtue of her inherent build, she was not cut out for classical dance. This was his old school European take on ballet, and he stated it matter of factly, not meaning any intentional disrespect. The thing is, that some of what he was referring to about her build was, frankly, part of what I've dealt with as a white woman -- feet that have had to be worked harder than most to articulate, and a pronounced swayback.

During this time, I was also taking class -- this was before white women did so -- on my own at an inner city church with a group of African American dancers. I used to feel a bit out of place, lacking as much freedom of the torso as they exhibited, but they made me feel welcome in a very spiritual way. If that wasn't something, I talked up the class so much to my figure skating coach, that soon he joined -- this middle aged, balding white guy, right? -- and he loved it, and they accepted him (this was decades ago).

When I returned to school to finish my dance degree at a different university many years later, I became extremely close friends with a young black woman, who had studied with Ailey (even named her baby girl after him), and who "HAD" to take ballet as well as modern to complete the major. Her goal was to complete school and join Ron Brown's troupe. Ballet was penance for her. Her expression would change every time she crossed the threshold of that studio for ballet class, looking perfectly miserable. I coached her on the side as much as I could, and tried to help her see the merits of classical training. When she would look extremely pained about a combination, I would mouth the words 'Ben Vereen" to her as kind of a private joke between us. It was a way of saying, "put yourself into the combination!" I don't like to take a disproportionate amount of credit for her vast improvement in a short time, but this girl looked like a different person within two years -- she was nailing fouette turns and generally looking fabulous. She never came to LOVE ballet, but she certainly had a lot more fun with it as we studied together, especially as she began to accept herself as a classical dancer, as well as a modern one. A lot of times, black students don't get into these private university dance programs because of finances. I'm so happy that our private university has made it possible for young black dancers in our area to become a part of this program through an alternative tuition plan. It not only affords them an opportunity they otherwise wouldn't have, but it makes our department so much more diversified.

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Hello Funny Face.Thanks for that inspirational story.It is still a sad but true fact that there are so few "Brown skinned"women of color in classical ballet and perhaps your theories are true.I have actually heard stories fo black children who want to pursue ballet,but face resistance from their parents because the parents have seen the reality and don't want their children "hurt". If you think about it,this race thing is such a viscious circle.People all around see that there is inequaliyt,but nobody is strong enough to really make that difference.It was enough 15 years ago for a company to boast one black dancer.A tolken if you will,but why stop there? I am not saying we need 52 Dance theatre of Harlems( and even they are diverse..)But in my opinion,if you have more that one type of dancer,they won't stand out so much.The last time I saw American ballet theatre, I counted at least 4 or 5 dancers of color,so after a while,I didn't noitce the color difference.I think there are many companies who could follow suit...in reference to Boston Ballet,there are at least 5 Asians,and an equal number of Latinos to round out the ethnic quotient,but only one African American,so it is noticable when she is not onstage.If Mikko were to hire at least two more,it wouldn't seem so odd that there was just that one...I mean,what if that one leaves the company? Who will the little City Dance students look to emulate?I know...Nobody said this was a fair profession,but it would be wonderful in my lietime to see some real changes...Perhaps I shpould find someone really well off and form my own dance troups open to all races....Naahh...I am sure many would be directors start out the same way...So I say this...it is tough being a Brownskinned black ballerina,but to be honest,I wouldn't trade it for the world.If things were too easy,one might not appreciate the gifts they are given.If one has to struggle,they take that with them and know that they actually did their best and people just weren't ready for them...As for body types.in this instance,the dancer in Boston ballet isn't flat chested,like most ballerinas,but she still has long legs and nice feet.but sometimes it is something as small as your chest size to make people look the other way,,,,Oh well.....And as for "the Mom",I think I know who your daughter is.You said you had a son as well,so I crossed referenced in Nutcracker programs....Trust me,you all have nothing to worry about.Your daughter is a beautiful dancer and she seems to have the qualities that will lead her far in Boston or anywhere she chooses to go.Best of luck to both of your children.

Edited by eland
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Eland - I can't begin to know the struggles you have faced. All I do know, being married to a man of different skin color and ethnic origin, are the troubles we have faced as a couple. I do know, as a mom, the difficulties my daughter has faced. I am glad that you found the strength to continue in ballet even when it wasn't easy. I'm sure your parents told you the same thing I tell my kids - "you are going to have to work even harder than everyone else if you want to get somewhere in this profession. Stay honest, stay strong, work hard and be kind." It hasn't always been easy.

I do want you to know that I know Mikko did offer a job this summer to a young black man who attended the summer program. My daughter knows him, says that he is a beautiful dancer, nice lines, etc. However, he had already accepted a job with another company. So, I don't really believe that Mikko is adverse to hiring minorities. I think the question returns to the number of black children who enter ballet and stick with it. I know from having my daughter audition that there have been so few black men and women in the auditions. Most of her black friends have ended up at the Ailey school or at Julliard.

Know that you can make a difference. Talk to the school about teaching classes or giving lectures in the City Dance program. If this is an issue you feel strongly about, and obviously you would and should, work to make changes. Help to inspire those children who need it. Work to gain scholarship money for those who need it. Think what having that kind of example would have done for you. My daughter says you are a strong and smart person. I think you are the kind of person who could make a difference. Good luck!

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Just want to say that even though many others have not posted on this thread, it's obviously a well read one which is a very good thing.

I, for one, appreciate the candor with which its the mom and eland have written. Thank you both. For those of us who are not in the minority, it's very easy to walk along through life not having a clue as to what hurdles people of "color" have to go through. Even with close friends who are in the "minority", we still can't really understand it - unless we've lived it.

The good news is that the human race is changing and it's people such as yourselves (and its the moms' children!) who are contributing so much towards these positive changes.

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Hello "BW" and the "mom".Thank you both for your comments....

I think that all we can do at this point is to wait and see what happens in the future ...The world is changing ...You see it in children everywhere,...It's just a matter of the adults catching up with the children...

"mom" Your words were heartfelt and kind and we thank you for them.I do need to point out that it is really the examples the kids need to see....Yes,my mother did say the same things to me as a child...I had to be smarter than everyone in my class at school,( and I graduated a year early)...In ballet,I had to be better than,or at least have one thing the other kids didn't in my class and the same Credo carried into everything else I did as a child...(Thus, I've always had a hidden talent even outside of ballet...)So you were right in saying that to your children...

It's funny ,the more I think about this topic,the more I realize,it really isn't us...As a minority in the Arts,I can honestly tell anyone who is interested....DO YOUR BEST .Period.If your best is what they want to see,then they will,..If they aren't ready,it will take time and perhaps the next generation will open their eyes,but never under any circumstance,let anyone tell you that you aren't right it even if they can't tell you why.OK,I am done preaching for the night....

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It has been a while since this topic has been broached,and I wonder if there has been any insight to it.

Things in Boston are as they've ever been...getting lighter... I truely hope that next season there are more than one noticably dark person in the company.It is a shame to come to a black and "not "issue,but that is the direction companies seem to be going in.

Perhaps it is a general "stereotype" that if you're black ,you must be trouble...I honestly believe that there are black people in the arts who only want to succeed where few have been allowed to in the past.

my comments in past threads were not meant in malice, but as educatation.There are too many people with blinders on.

Things will never change in this profession unless people make them change.

I had always hoped to see Boston Ballet rise above everyone else and like Houston Ballet, have a ranking Black dancer,but I don't think that will ever happen.... I am not talking about someone who has a "drop" of "african" somewhere so that their hair might curl,I'm talking about Black.Dark brown skinned with 'nappy" hair that you have to process to get straight.

It seems as though a person like this is a threat because he or she has already gone through the process and is waiting for their due....

Wake up America....The World is made of different races and some of them are black. Why is Dance Theatre of Harlem the only place of its kind? Why does every white person I know tell someone Black to go to Alvin Ailey?

Don't get me wrong...I don't have anything against people who aren't balck, in fact, I love other races, but I don't understand why the African American is still so behind..

My advice to a school might be...Don't take someone in as a token. If they are truely talented, push them, otherwise it will go away ...The other thing is that you don't have to have light skin to be beautiful and just because you're dark, doesn't make you a threat. Everyone needs to know this...

As for Boston Ballet, you have to get more that one Black person into your company ,and I don't mean anyone who you have to guess their race.....I'm talking BLACK.The company is so talented and you seem to represent every other race,so step up to the plate>>>

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Eland, I don't think anyone has to go so far as to hypothesize that ballet companies think African-American dancers will be trouble. The first thing I'd want to know is 1) what the proportion of African-Americans is in the general population, and 2) whether African-American kids study ballet at the same rate as other-American kids. That would give us a handle on whether African-American dancers are getting passed over in the hiring process or not.

In other word, to correct a disparity you have to show there is one AND understand where it is occurring.

As for Mel's question about Arab-Americans -- as a guess, I'd say that religious and cultural norms mitigate against Arab-American girls studying ballet. Tights and leos don't leave much to the imagination. This could reduce the pool of available talent.

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Ah, but not all Arab-American families are traditionalist, or even all Muslim! Lebanese and Egyptians can often turn out to be Christians. And many Muslim families are secularists. In 40+ years I've been in this business, I've known more than just a few young women of Arab ancestry who have been very good ballet dancers. I just don't see them hired!

And further, while we're at it, what about American Indians/Native Americans/First Peoples? OK, there's Jock Soto at NYCB who has that heritage, any others? Or do people think "Oh, that's what Maria and Marjorie Tallchief, Yvonne Chouteau, Mosceyne Larkin, and Rosella Hightower did. Been there, done that, don't need any more"?

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My advice  to a school might be...Don't take someone in as  a token.

[. . .]       

As for Boston Ballet, you have to  get more that one Black person into your company ,and I don't mean anyone who you have  to guess their race.....I'm talking BLACK.The company  is  so talented and  you seem  to represent every other race,so step up  to the plate>>>

eland, I understand your concern, but aren't you contradicting yourself here? I can't remember how Lincoln Kirstein used to put it, but -- to use a word considerably more modern than he did -- ballet is, or at least should be, a meritocracy. Skin color shouldn't hold anyone back, and it shouldn't give anyone a, uh, leg up either.

If the ballet world does have a race problem, perhaps it's in the schools. I would think it's only a matter of time before someone comes out with a study of how many non-white dancers enter dance schools, how many graduate, and how many find work.

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As always, it's a mushy problem. The reality is that there are probably factors at all levels that affect who wants to dance, who has the opportunity to get good training, and who gets hired.

Mel, my point about Arab-Americans was that if you start with a group that is a relatively small proportion of the population, and reduce it further due to cultural, economic, or religious constraints, then the pool from which to hire is going to be very small.

One thing I have admired about the Joffrey is that they have a reasonable number of African-American dancers (Erica Edwards, Michael Smith, Bobby Briscoe, Jessica Wyatt, plus the retired Pierre Lockett) AND casting appears to be relatively color-blind. Thanks in part to the efforts of Pierre Lockett and others, there is an active outreach and education program among Chicago's African-American community.

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My husband is almost a 100% percent sure that Parisa Khobdeh is a name of Iranian origin.

As for Muslims and dance, in the Indian film industry almost all of the film actors, dancers, musicians and composers are Muslim. Most Muslims have a long history of respect for the arts. As for Muslims or Arab Americans in the West I'm hopeful that more will choose dance as a career and be successful at it.

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Well, kudos to the Joffrey ballet...

Treefrog, I understand your question about the rate of Black ballet students to white or other and it is indeed alot slower, but that is because many black students are not introduced to the artform and if they are, all they see are white people, so their parents tell them that it isn't for them...

I believe that in some cases, it is unfortunately a socioeconomic issue.Some black families cannot afford to send their students to ballet class, but I also believe it is a case of immitating what you see.... As children, I think we have all found something to identify with , whether it is a public figure ( a politician, doctor, fireperson...)or a doll or a member fo your family and every child has wanted to grow up to be that thing...I have never heard a black child say they wanted to grow up to be a prima ballerina and I think it its because they haven't had multiple examples...There has only been one in my lifetime and none in the future generation...

You follow by example and if you're a child and don't see an example of you, you might think you don'e have a chance...

It is ture, I don't really know of an Iranian ballerina either, so I guess the good news is that the lapse in racial equality isn't relegated to one race...

As for the Joffrey, the only other co. I have noticed as having more than one or two tolken blacks is ABT...

Of course I am concerned about Boston Ballet because I am in the city adn want to see more representation....

I guess it walks a fine line...If directors made the conscious effort hire a diverse clientel of dancers then the dancers would wonder why they were hired, but at the same time, if some people don't start doing this, the there will not be a balanced future for minorities...

Please don't get me wrong, i am not angry or accusing anyone, I just wonder why it is the 21st century and the numbers are still relatively small even though the population is changing around the companies...

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As children, I think we have all found something to identify with , whether it is a public figure ( a politician, doctor, fireperson...)or a doll or a member fo your family and every child has wanted to grow up to be that thing...I have never heard a black child say they wanted to grow up to be a prima ballerina and I think it its because they haven't had multiple examples...There has only been one in my lifetime and none in the future generation...

Having guest taught ballet and given Ballet Teaching Seminars in Haiti, I would have to say I have heard young children of color say they wanted to be ballerinas but on the other side I have also heard many say that they have few examples of their race actually succeeding in ballet. There had been in the past quite a few successful dancers of color in the early 1950's. Lavinia Williams actually established various schools of ballet in Haiti and I believe the Bahamas, Jamaica and throughout the West Indies. Her daughter, Sarah Yarborourgh also reached success in the US as a ballet dancer. If I recall correctly, SAB and then on to NYCB, oh maybe it was Joffrey (Major Johnson do you know this one?). Ballet in the Caribbean is alive and well. There are no paying jobs in ballet in those countries for dancers (there a a zillion schools of varying levels). No official companies to employ, but many do leave to study in various programs throughout the US and in the case of Haiti, I know a few have gone to study in France.

The demographics of students in ballet who go on to professional careers in ballet is something that would be of interest. I am sure it could be quite shocking to see for all races.

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according to a bio i found of sara yarborough on the web:

Dancer, teacher, choreographer Sara Yarborough-Smith, a native of New York City, is classically trained, and was the recipient of a Ford Foundation scholarship from George Balanchine to study at the School of American Ballet. Some of her teachers included: Andre Eglevsky, Suki Shoerer, Alexandra Danilova, Muriel Stuart, Felia Doubrovska, and Stanley Williams.

After completing her fourth year at the school, she was discovered by the late

Benjamin Harkarvy, Artistic Director of the Julliard School, who invited her to work under his direction with the Harkness Ballet Company.

Sara then went on to perform with the Joffrey Ballet, Dance Theatre of Harlem, the Metropolitan Opera Ballet and spent eleven and a half years as principal dancer of the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre.

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Sarah Jane Yarborough, whom I always admired in class at SAB, became an apprentice at NYCB, then moved over to Joffrey during my time there. At the same time Sarah became a dancer with the company, Rachel Ganteaume was promoted to the company from Joffrey II.

Joffrey has always been a good ground for the meritocracy as well as "a company that looks like America" largely because it is in the Joffrey tradition to make it so. Mr. Joffrey's roamings and guestings at various schools and events made it possible for him to view the potential Joffrey dancers out there and bring them into the family. We did have a couple of Arabian young women in the school, and at one time both were apprentices, but they were both major brains and went on to academia, where they both collected one advanced degree after another. Ballet's loss - oh, well.

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I think that it will be very difficult to reach true diversity in ballet companies without an enormous amount of grass-roots educational work.

I am a new 'non-resident alien' in the US and I was very surprised to see the fairly 'white bread' look of the PA Ballet given that the majority of people on the streets of Philly are not white (but then the second time I saw PA Ballet, Riolama Lorenzo and Heidi Cruz danced the lead roles :) ...) However, this is a general problem in this country. After all, there are not that many people of colour working in an administrative position in the company I work at. Ballet is also at a distinct disadvantage compared to other artforms like acting or music which seem to promise fame and financial gain. So I can understand why parents who 'want the best' for their child and are unfamilar with ballet would be more likely to sedn their child to a sports activity (fame and fortune again) or to a drama class.

Mel, I'm not sure that the fact that the girls you talk of were of Arab heritage wasn't relevant to their decision to leave ballet and go into academia. If they or their parents are immigrants, they are more likely to 'want' their achievement, whatever it is, to be tangibly validated. (Believe me, I know - this is the third continent I've immigrated to :shrug: )

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GWTW, we almost all knew that the young women I mentioned were heading "through" ballet on the way to something else, but the hope was to get them into the company before they made their next career step. One's father was a doctor, and she is now in a tenured position in a prestigious medical school. The other's father and mother were both career Federal civil servants, and she has gone on to a long and distinguished career in public service and humanitarian actions.

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someone asked why there had to be a certain number of minorities in any ballet company and I was floored.... :)

It is not the number per se that is the issue.I think that if there were a certain number, nobody would notice they were different...Call this corny, but it calls to mind the Martin luther King speech where he said his dream was to see children of different ethnicities is school and play together...Shouldn't that extend to everything else? :shrug:

It bothers me that in this day and age that someone would actually think that just one of any ethnic origin was sufficient...Has society not progressed as I had hoped...Does this erson speak for the general public?

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:shrug: I think the whole question of minority acceptance in ballet is very very complex.

First, ballet in this country is "high culture" and tends to be attended by upper middle class and above audiences. Consequently those same people tend to send their children to ballet school as youngsters. Even if they do not attend performances, many upper middle class parents consider ballet to be a good thing - especially for girls. So you start out with a very self selected group.

Second, there are a large number of minority heavy companies. I would guess that the proportion of professional ballet dancers in the countries top companies that are black are greater than the general population (12%). Of course you have to include the primarily minority companies of Alvin Ailey and DTH. So while the 12% number is unlikely to be the case in any single company other than Ailey and DTH I would not be surprised if it is so on average of all of the companies.

On the other hand, I have noticed a large proportion of Asian dancers while there are relatively few american hispanics. It think it is all very cultural.

And one person who has done a great deal to promote ballet to the general population of NY is Eliot Feld. His school has certainly reached into all of the communities in the city. It is just a wonderful thing. And, while he had to cancel this past season at the Joyce for his Company, the school is still going strong. I once noticed that there seemed to be mostly black male dancers and mostly white female dancers in the company. At an intermisison a few years ago I asked him if that was the case in the school as well, he said he never noticed it in either case. Isn't that the right answer. He made me feel racist for even noticing it! :angry:

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Call this corny, but it calls to mind the  Martin luther King speech where he  said  his dream was to  see children  of  different ethnicities is school and  play together...Shouldn't that extend to  everything else? :shrug:


I'm afraid you have it backwards, eland. The promised land King dreamed of is one in which race wouldn't matter, not one in which we would presume racism in the absence of racial representation in every field and in every place.

Hal may be correct that if you go by the numbers alone African-Americans are actually overrepresented at the highest ranks, but let's suppose for the sake of argument that they aren't, and that for whatever complex of reasons (class privilege would surely be one of them), there simply aren't as many talented African-American ballet dancers proportionally today as there are talented white counterparts.

I have no idea if this is the case or not, but my point is that while many would view such a claim as racist presumption, racism will not have been entirely overcome until we can accept it as a posibility -- until we're comfortable with the fact that racial equality means that all races are of equal value, not that they're all equal in all ways in all places and times.

Do the Irish have a gift for words, as is widely recognized? Ah, but then who are they more gifted than? African-Americans are acknowledged to have been responsible for all or most innovation in the jazz world. Translated, that means they've been better than whites. "Diversity," in other words, is another word for difference.

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eland is certainly right about the spirit of King's words, I think. I'd suggest that assertions such as "the Irish have a gift for words" and "blacks are better at jazz than whites" aren't widely acknowledged facts so much as widely acknowledged stereotypes, and positive stereotypes are no better than negative ones, IMO.

I believe having examples in front of you is important for engaging the interest of young people. I see many African-Americans in the audience when I attend performances of the Ailey company and DTH. At performances of white dominated companies, often I see no more than a handful, if that. Clearly not a coincidence, and a matter for concern.

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I see many African-Americans in the audience when I attend performances of the Ailey company and DTH.  At performances of white dominated companies, often I see no more than a handful, if that.  Clearly not a coincidence, and a matter for concern.

I see this as a concern, too, but for me it is a two-way concern. Why do whites attend performances of predominantly black companies, while blacks seldom attend performances of predominantly white companies?

The audience in DC for Alvin Ailely is always mixed (in the suburbs, it's predominantly white.) In DC, for years, when DTH came here for two weeks, one week subscription and one week non-subscription, at a time when there were a lot of subscribers, difference in the racial composition of the audiences was staggering. Subscription week, nearly all white. Non-subscription week, nearly all black. Are people coming as tourists, in the way a German embassy employee, who doesn't give a hoot about dance will come see Hamburg or Stuttgart to either root for the home team or simply because they're German? If not, why didn't the nonsubscription week DTH viewers get so enthusastic about dance that they subscribed to the next season? (We, too, have very segregated audiences here, and it's not all economics, because there is a very large black middle and professional class living in both in the city and the near suburbs. I've been to performances of the Howard University dance company where I was the only woman in the audience not wearing mink. But I don't see those women at the Kennedy Center modern or ballet programs.)

The programming popular now that's intended to attract minority audiences is, to me, terribly condescending. "We'll do a new ballet to "black" music. They'll like that. That'll bring 'em in." I've talked to people who feel this is condescending. They resent the assumption that blacks are interested in only "black art." (I understand their resentment. My retort is that if I were limited to Lithuanian-American literature, music and dance, or if people assumed I'd want to see something in which I had no interest -- a bird calling demonstration, say -- because the caller was Lithuanian, I'd throw a temper tantrum.) And yet the audiences remain segregated.

The problems are so complex on all sides of this question.

Someone above said that, on the performing side, it was a matter of critical mass. I agree with that. One dancer who looks noticeably different -- in any way, height, weight, body type, skin color -- will stand out. 6, 8, 10, 12 who are "different" aren't different any more. I've posted this before, but my model of racial integration in a ballet company was the Cuban Ballet in the 1970s and 1980s. Whether they used a conscious quota system or not, the company looked 25% European/very fair, 50% Latin Americans of various hues and 25% very dark skinned. When they danced, it didn't matter. they were just as convincing as Silesian peasants as any other company. But even in Cuba, that has changed. The company the last time it was here seemed more European to me. I don't think Cuba has suddenly become racist, and I don't think that dark-skinned Cubans aren't ballet material. Lack of interest? Lack of access? (The legend is that right after the Revolution, Alonso had access to the Cuban orphanages for recruitment.)

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