Upping the Odds for Black Ballet Dancers

December 27, 2015

IABD to hold company auditions for minority women.

DTH’s Chrystyn Fentroy performing at an IABD conference. Photo by Bill Hebert, courtesy IABD.

A common issue company directors cite when it comes to the diversity-in-ballet problem is that very few minority dancers attend their auditions. But the International Association of Blacks in Dance, which holds its annual conference in Denver this month, is looking to help solve the problem. The organization has invited directors from across the U.S. to consider dancers for company positions and training scholarships, at an audition open only to minority women on January 24. “This is a direct response to what we’ve been hearing,” says IABD chairperson and executive director Denise Saunders Thompson. “This is about accessibility. It’s an opportunity for engagement between dancers and professional companies.”

As of press time, the following companies and schools had confirmed attendance: Ballet Memphis, Charlotte Ballet, Colorado Ballet, Dance Theatre of Harlem, The Hartt School, Houston Ballet and its Academy, American Ballet Theatre’s Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis School, Kansas City Ballet, Mark Morris Dance Group, Nashville Ballet and School, Pacific Northwest Ballet School, Pennsylvania Ballet, San Francisco Ballet and The Washington Ballet. Dancer registration will remain open until the audition, which will consist of technique class led by Delores Brown and varied repertoire.
IABD will hold its annual audition for modern and jazz dancers of color during the conference, as well. See iabdassociation.org to register.