SALT LAKE CITY — Three Ballet West dancers say a stranger yelled racial slurs at them following rehearsal last week.
Katlyn Addison, principal artist at Ballet West, said in her 10 years in Utah, this has never happened before.
“It’s unfortunate because I feel like people are kind here,” said Addison. “It’s just scary because I don’t know how far she could’ve taken it.”
Performing in a medium where no words are spoken, you can imagine what it must’ve felt like for Addison to walk out of rehearsal only to hear words that never should’ve been spoken.
“Some lady literally, whole body out of her car, yelled out and called me the N-word,” said Addison.
The woman was a complete stranger, and Addison said she wishes she would’ve taken a picture of the license plate and the offender.
“That was a slur used many years ago to define Black people, and I know I’m not sluggish, lazy, and I know I’m not what those words used to define,” said Addison.
The woman then drove past Addison's two Black colleagues down the road, yelling at them as well.
“People will say whatever they want to say, but I constantly remind myself: 'They don’t hold my worth,'” said Addison.
In a statement posted to social media, Ballet West condemned the stranger’s actions:
"It is unimaginable that in 2021, our public gathering places are not safe from such hatred evidenced by the behavior of these racists.
"As an organization committed to maintaining a diverse and inclusive environment for all of its employees, Ballet West condemns the actions of these individuals in the strongest manner possible. We urge the community to stand united in condemning racism in all forms, including cowardly acts perpetuated by individuals from the safety of their vehicles. Lastly, we hope all of our neighbors and community leaders in our great city will elevate the conversation about race in an effort to educate about the destructive harm hate and hate speech inflicts on all human beings."