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Ballet West announces equity changes for dancers of color

Demi Soloist Joshua Whitehead in Merce Cunningham's Summerspace Photo by Beau Pearson.jpg
Posted at 1:41 PM, Oct 01, 2020
and last updated 2020-10-05 01:12:19-04

SALT LAKE CITY — Ballet West announced major changes Thursday that will allow the company to be more welcoming to dancers of color.

An in-house audit conducted by Artistic Director Adam Sklute, along with other members of Ballet West, found obstacles facing dancers of color that were not present for others in the company, including inequitable preparation time and inadequate representation.

In response to those hurdles, Ballet West says they have made the following changes:

  • Eliminating historic ‘paling’ body make-up for women in such roles as Swan Lake and Giselle
  • Not allowing make-up that attempts to indicate a race or ethnicity, other than the dancer’s own.
  • Tights and shoe straps will be supplied by the Company to artists to more accurately match individual skin tones.
  • The Company will dye pointe shoes and paint canvas flat shoes to match the skin tone of the dancer.
First Soloist Katlyn Addison in Africa Guzmán's Sweet and Bitter.  Photo by Beau Pearson.jpg
First Soloist Katlyn Addison in Africa Guzmán's Sweet and Bitter

In addition, Ballet West will continue it's serial panel discussion, "Dismantling Racism in Classical Ballet," which focuses on the hurdles faced by ballet dancers of color.

“I believe a more diverse and inclusive organization is a stronger Ballet West,” said Sklute. “It is time we hold a mirror to ourselves and examine how our art form - and how Ballet West - can do better in dismantling systems that do not foster equity, and to institutionalize structures that do.”