Dancers at IABD's audition in January

Inside IABD's Audition for Women of Color

When we first announced in December that the International Association of Blacks in Dance was hosting its inaugural ballet audition for women of color, the reactions were mixed. Readers took to social media and beyond to dialogue with the dance community. Some praised IABD's initiative. Others concluded that, unfortunately, auditions of this kind were necessary to provide opportunities for black dancers. Yet others asked if an audition for women of color was racist or overly exclusive. Regardless, all were curious. What would an audition like this look like, and what would be the outcomes?

The video below takes you inside IABD's January 24 audition, which was attended by 87 women. Although the skill and age of the dancers varies greatly, seeing that many black ballet dancers in one place is a rare and powerful sight. Several dancers of mixed race did participate, and based on this video's interviews with some of the auditionees, the spirit of inclusion was a large theme of the day. Artistic staff from more than a dozen ballet schools and companies evaluated the dancers, and they ultimately offered 25 scholarships and invited four dancers to attend their own company's auditions.

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Photo by Ernest Gregory, Courtesy Fleming

How This Tap-Dancer-Turned-Composer Stays True to His Jazz Roots

From Riverdance to HBO's "Boardwalk Empire," tap dancer DeWitt Fleming Jr. has proved to be a triple threat on the stage and screen. He's also an entrepreneur, selling his own line of wireless microphones, DeW It Right Tap Mics. Last year, he added "composer" to his resumé with the release of Sax and Taps INTERSPLOSION!, the first tap dance and jazz album recorded at Jazz at Lincoln Center's Dizzy's Club. One of the songs, co-written with jazz saxophonist Erica von Kleist, was a finalist for last year's Unsigned Only music competition.

"When you're invited to dance with a jazz band, it's always assumed that, as a tap dancer, you're going to be a feature. If you go all the way back to New Orleans' Congo Square, and even before then, dance was a part of the music. I wanted to stick to those roots and create an album where everything was intertwined."

He recently spoke with Dance Magazine about his collaboration with von Kleist and the creation of their album.

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January 2021