ADI Launches Scholarship Initiative to Promote Racial Diversity in Dance Training
ADI’s research indicated a need for more role models to help solve ballet’s diversity problem. Here, Ashley-Hannah Davis teaches students at Ballet Memphis’ school. Photo by Louis Tucker, Courtesy Ballet Memphis.
Diversity is a hot-button topic in today’s dance world. It’s often linked to conversations about the rise of Misty Copeland, and there have been many notable outreach efforts, such as Charlotte Ballet’s partnership with Dance Theatre of Harlem, American Ballet Theatre’s Project Plié, The Washington Ballet’s recently launched program called Let’s Dance Together and the work done by the International Association of Blacks in Dance. Now, the American Dance Institute has launched its Future Artists Initiative, a scholarship program to fund training for racially diverse dancers. In a press release from ADI, the organization’s executive director Adrienne Willis said, “We feel ADI’s Future Artists Initiative will make a great impact on the future of the art form, ensuring the stages of tomorrow reflect the rich diversity of American talent.”
After conducting extensive research with the help of Dance/USA and IABD, the organizations selected 40 pre-professional schools that may nominate up 10 students for financial assistance. In order to be eligible for funding this fall, schools have until April 15 to nominate their students, whose parent/guardian must complete an application by May 15. Perhaps what’s most unique about this program is its ongoing nature: As long as recipients continue their pre-professional training, they will continue to receive up to $5,000 annually until they turn 18. The money is intended not only to supplement dance training, but also assist with other associated costs (transportation, housing, shoes, clothing, etc.).
On the surface, this may sound like an attempt to use money to solve a problem, but the Future Artists Initiative seems to be digging deeper. Early in the process, they reached out to over 600 dance schools across the country to determine why talented students aren’t always able to continue their training. Over 60 schools reported the high costs of tuition, supplies and transportation as the most prohibitive factors in keeping low-income families from quality dance education.
ADI’s research also linked ballet’s lack of diversity to an absence of role models that students can identify with. In “Diversity Is the New Black” in our January issue, writer Theresa Ruth Howard pointed to the very same issue, along with other changes that need to happen to eradicate ballet’s diversity problem.
For more information about the Future Artists Initiative, including ADI’s research, click here.