There's been a lot of talk about the lack of diversity in classical ballet, mostly credited to the rise of Misty Copeland at American Ballet Theatre. But in reality, talking about it is just the beginning, and can only bring so much change to the field. So on Sunday, January 24, the International Association of Blacks in Dance conference invited artistic directors from companies across the country to an audition for female ballet dancers of color.
When I spoke to IABD executive director Denise Saunders Thompson in December about the audition, she wasn't totally sure how things would pan out in terms of the group's size and talent. It turns out, she had nothing to worry about. Representatives from 15 top ballet organizations came to Cleo Parker Robinson Dance Studios in Denver, Colorado, to watch 87 young dancers take class with Delores Brown and rehearse variations with Robert Garland. IABD says that each organization that attended found dancers for summer programs or company positions, though the specific results have not yet been made public.
It sounds like a great start to making American ballet look like America: Talented dancers found new opportunities, companies found talented dancers, and everyone became more involved in the discussion of minorities in classical ballet.