Plus-Size Dancer Colleen Werner Is Challenging Ballet to Celebrate All Body Shapes

In an industry with strict physique expectations, Colleen Werner is forging an alternate path—an adult dance experience that celebrates body diversity. While studying to become a clinical mental health counselor in Nashville, she’s simultaneously dancing with Black Sheep Ballet, a virtual company that aims to bring ballet to more diverse audiences. Meanwhile on Instagram, she’s […]

Dance Schools Are Updating Their Dress Codes to Become More Inclusive

Catalyzed by the national reckoning on racial injustice last summer, much of the dance world began to ponder some tough questions, one being: “Who does traditional dancewear leave out?” Brands heard the growing calls for a greater range of options and have begun producing and promoting new lines of flesh-tone shoes and tights. Meanwhile, dance […]

Why Former Dancer Erica Lynette Edwards Launched an Anti-Racism Consulting Business

In her nearly 15 years dancing with The Joffrey Ballet, Erica Lynette Edwards was known for her onstage charisma. But she was a prominent figure offstage, as well—taking part in promotional interviews, advertising campaigns and outreach initiatives, which piqued her interest in community engagement. After retiring in 2014, she spent five years as Joffrey’s director […]

Final Bow for Yellowface Accelerates Plans to Lift Up Asian Dance Talent

For five years now, Final Bow for Yellowface has been working to rid ballet of offensive Asian stereotypes. But the organization’s goals have always gone deeper than simply updating costumes or makeup. “It’s about what is Asianness onstage—who is given authority, what is considered ‘high art’? And how that translates to the daily lives of […]

What Makes It So Difficult to Diversify Ballet Faculties?

The lack of Black ballet teachers in professional training programs has long been known to be a weakness holding the field back from true inclusivity. The common refrain of “We can’t find them” might have been plausible before, given the scarcity of professional Black ballet dancers. Yet suddenly, qualified candidates are springing up. (Perhaps the […]

The Paris Opéra's Diversity Report Proposes Steps Towards a More Inclusive Company

Five years after Benjamin Millepied was met with fierce resistance for bringing up racist practices within the Paris Opéra Ballet, the French company is finally acknowledging its lack of diversity. This week, the Paris Opéra released an official report with recommendations, commissioned in the wake of last summer’s racial reckoning and increased support for the […]

Tokenism vs. Representation: How Can We Tell Them Apart?

Last year’s Black Lives Matter protests jolted the ballet world into action. All of a sudden, things that once “took time” instantaneously became easy fixes, like it was an episode of Oprah’s favorite things for Black people: “You get an opportunity, and you get an opportunity!” Much of this sudden, reactionary change has elicited high […]

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