Ballet companies have a long history of inequity and racial discrimination, and when The National Ballet of Canada’s Black and Racialized artists raised their voices, we heard them... and we are listening…
WE ARE COMMITTED TO CHANGE AND CONTINUING THIS DIALOGUE.
Open, honest and difficult conversations took place between leadership and dancers. Artists shared their experiences, their pain, and their concerns. We listened and agreed to work together to improve the culture of our organization. This dialogue must and will continue.
Our Commitment to Equity, Diversity and Inclusion
At The National Ballet of Canada, we strongly believe that embracing each of our different and unique experiences, based on our cultural and racial backgrounds, citizenship, creed, sex, gender identity and gender expression, sexual orientation, age, marital and family status, ability and disability, brings value and vibrancy to the workplace and the company.
We also recognize that Toronto is one of the most culturally diverse cities in the world and as a major arts institution, we need to better reflect that diversity throughout our organization. Ballet companies have a long history of inequity and racial discrimination, including The National Ballet of Canada. We are committed to change.
In the last several years, The National Ballet of Canada has significantly increased our roster of Black and Brown artists but increased visibility is not enough. Every artist and staff member at The National Ballet of Canada needs to feel safe, respected, and supported.
The National Ballet of Canada is working in partnership with Charles Smith and Cultural Pluralism in the Arts Movement Ontario (CPAMO) since 2018 to facilitate the development of a comprehensive, institution-wide Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Plan for the company.
Work to date includes:
- Development and implementation of an institution-wide Code of Conduct and Ethics
- Establishment of a cross-departmental Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Task Force
- Participation in The Equity Project: Increasing the Presence of Blacks in Ballet, convened by Dance Theatre of Harlem, The International Association of Blacks in Dance (IABD) and DanceUSA
- Monthly Town Halls for our racialized artists and staff, to create a safe space to address concerns and explore opportunities for improvement on an ongoing basis
- Meet regularly with the entire company about their concerns and to continue the dialogue
- Work collaboratively with our dancers, musicians and staff and the wider dance community to shift the organizational culture by raising our racial and culture IQ to be more inclusive and respectful
- Implementation of robust anti-racism/anti-bias training for all artists and staff on an annual basis
- Hire a Director of Equity, Diversity and Inclusion to ensure these values are front and centre in every decision we make and that we expand our community engagement
- Regular updates on our Equity, Diversity and Inclusion work on our website to keep our patrons and the public informed of our progress
The Equity Project: Increasing the Presence of Blacks in Ballet
The National Ballet of Canada has been a participant in The Equity Project: Increasing the Presence of Blacks in Ballet since 2018. Convened by Dance Theatre of Harlem, The International Association of Blacks in Dance (IABD) and Dance/USA, the project brings together a cohort of Artistic and Executive leaders from 21 North American large budget, professional ballet organizations for in-person meetings and coaching, with the purpose of increasing the presence of blacks in ballet in all areas of the industry. Supporting The Equity Project: Increasing the Presence of Blacks in Ballet is a highly skilled team of consultants that bring a wealth of knowledge and expertise in classical ballet, undoing racism and education. This holistic approach is designed to engage participants at the intersection of the history of ballet; broader systems of power and privilege; and practical tools for change.
Read interview with Theresa Ruth Howard about The Equity Project >
Learn More at MoBBallet, curating the memoirs of blacks in ballet >
Launched in 2015, MoBBallet preserves, presents, and promotes the contributions, and stories of Black artists in the field of Ballet, illustrating that they are an integral part dance history at large. Follow @mobballet on Instagram.
Final Bow for Yellowface
Final Bow for Yellowface was founded by Georgina Pazcoguin, New York City Ballet Soloist, and Phil Chan, arts administrator and educator, with a simple pledge, "I love ballet as an art form, and acknowledge that to achieve a diversity amongst our artists, audiences, donors, students, volunteers, and staff, I am committed to eliminating outdated and offensive stereotypes of Asians (Yellowface) on our stages." Georgina and Phil asked leaders of ballet companies around the world to sign this pledge. Artistic Director Karen Kain and Executive Director Barry Hughson are committed to this initiative and have both signed this pledge.
Learn more >
There is much more work to do and we are committed to continuing this work in collaboration with our dancers, musicians and staff and the wider dance community.
Please check back to this page for updates.