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A Statement on
Kingdom of the Shades

Boston Ballet’s 2023–2024 season includes a 25-minute work of classical ballet known as Kingdom of the Shades. Widely recognized as one of the grandest examples of nineteenth-century Russian ballet choreography, Kingdom of the Shades is an abstract scene depicting 24 female dancers performing in unison along with a pas de deux between a male and female dancer. 

Kingdom of the Shades is an excerpt of a full-length ballet called La Bayadère. In our ongoing commitment to DIVERSITY, EQUITY, AND INCLUSION, Boston Ballet is not presenting the full-length production of La Bayadère. We recognize its problematic storyline and strongly disagree with its appropriation of South Asian culture. It is important for the Company to preserve the best of classical choreography without perpetuating culturally insensitive and offensive portrayals. The sets and costumes of Kingdom of the Shades do not appropriate cultural scenes or clothing. We do not believe the scene reinforces any negative stereotypes or problematic themes present in the full ballet. 

Boston Ballet remains committed to our institution-wide DIVERSITY, EQUITY, AND INCLUSION work, including staff training, building a racially diverse team, and evolving the relevance of our artistic identity and repertoire. We also credit Phil Chan, a thought leader in the field and author of Final Bow for Yellowface and Banishing Orientalism. Artistic Director Mikko Nissinen has signed Phil Chan’s Final Bow for Yellowface 2018 PLEDGE as a commitment to eliminate outdated and offensive stereotypes of Asians on our stages. It is because of these commitments that we recognize the problematic history of La Bayadère and chose not to present the full ballet in our 20232024 season.