CULTURAL COMPETENCE AND EQUITY COALITION | ARTISTIC DIRECTORS COALITION FOR BALLET IN AMERICA | REIMAGINING THE NUTCRACKER | OPEN HOUSE SERIES FOR ASPIRING BLACK DANCERS | STOPASIANHATE | COLOR OUR FUTURE MENTORSHIP PROGRAM | DIVERSITY, EQUITY, AND INCLUSION STEERING COMMITTEE | THE EQUITY PROJECT | CHOREOGRAPHER INITIATIVE | DANCE EDUCATION FOR ALL
Cultural Competence and Equity Coalition
Boston Ballet has joined the CULTURAL COMPETENCE AND EQUITY COALITION (C²EC), an international coalition of dance companies led by Theresa Ruth Howard, Diversity Strategist and Consultant and founder of MEMOIRS OF BLACKS IN BALLET. C²EC is a membership-based organization that supports the embodiment of Inclusion, Diversity, Equity, Anti-Racism, and Cultural Competence (I.D.E.A. & C.C.) and works to transform the cultural norms within the classical arts. C²EC is a learning community providing the support, education, and advocacy organizations, leaders, artists, and creators need to reimagine and reshape the culture and the standards of classical arts.
The C²EC and its members will work collaboratively to become anti-racist and embed the foundational tenets of I.D.E.A. & C.C. into their organizations and the field at large. Most importantly, C²EC will provide a measure of accountability that has been missing by encouraging members to exercise transparency not only within the Coalition, but with its employees, stakeholders, patrons, and the public.
C²EC has designed a Curriculum of Change that will address the needs of the field, from pipeline to performance, boardroom to box office and beyond. Its team of consultants, facilitators, and educators will engage members as a cohort and individually to influence organizational cultural reform.
Artistic Directors Coalition for Ballet in America
Artistic Director Mikko Nissinen is a member of the Artistic Directors Coalition for Ballet in America – Pilot Program for African American Inclusion. Since April of 2020, he and fellow Artistic Director colleagues and have been working together to discuss the current state and the future of the art form. Together, they shaped tangible action plans and a statement of commitment to address inequities and inclusion. Companies and artists in this group have agreed to an initial step designed to create equal access and opportunity for all young artists, and where aspiring young artists of all colors and race feel welcomed into the art form. Participation, collaboration and involvement by all will shape and define the ballet of the future. LEARN MORE about the coalition.
Reimagining The Nutcracker
Boston Ballet is engaged in an ongoing effort to evolve the divertissements in Act II of The Nutcracker. We are partnering with voices from diverse cultures and affinity groups to advise us on the evolution of our choreography, as well as cultural representation on and off stage.
In Boston Ballet’s 2021 PRODUCTION OF THE NUTCRACKER, the Act II divertissements—which have historically leaned on cultural appropriation—have shifted to a celebration of diversity, with respectful portrayals that honor unique cultural heritages. The Sugar Plum Fairy now reigns over the Kingdom of the Sweets, which is filled with cultural delicacies from around the world such as Spanish Coffee and French Marzipan.
The choreography for several divertissements has been updated. For example, the male and female roles in Arabian Chocolate are now portrayed as equals rather than relying on outdated gender dynamics. The organization has also been working with Phil Chan, co-founder of FINAL BOW FOR YELLOWFACE, and has signed a petition as a commitment to eliminating outdated and offensive stereotypes of Asians on our stages. In 2018, Artistic Director Mikko Nissinen made changes to Nutcracker costumes and choreography to remove elements of racial stereotyping in the Chinese Tea dance. This year, Boston Ballet introduces new choreography inspired by Chinese ribbon dancing traditions. We plan to reimagine Chinese Tea on a larger scale in the years ahead.
Open House Series for Aspiring Black Dancers
In February 2021, Boston Ballet launched a series of virtual open houses created in partnership with the IABD. This series is designed to help young and aspiring African American and dancers of color enter into the professional dance field, get to know Boston Ballet, and feel welcomed into our organization. Stay tuned for UPCOMING OPEN HOUSES during the 2021–2022 season.
Boston Ballet stands with the Asian and Asian American (AAPI) community who has been impacted by the alarming surge of anti-Asian hate crimes since the COVID-19 pandemic began. We strongly condemn acts of racism, hatred, or violence of any kind, and do not tolerate these injustices against our audiences, dancers, musicians, students, families, employees, Board members, partners, or volunteers. We are committed to using the power of our art, our platforms, and our voices to create more diverse, equitable, and inclusive spaces in our organization, in Boston, and on the global stage.
We urge you to stand with us to #StopAAPIHate by sharing resources and becoming an advocate for reporting and stopping hate in our community.
- Visit STOP AAPI HATE to report a hate incident, get safety tips for encountering or witnessing hate, and learn more about what is happening and why.
- Visit the COMMONWEALTH OF MASSACHUSETTS ASIAN AMERICAN COMMISSION to download a Community Action Guide, sign up for bystander intervention training, report a local hate incident, and get more educational resources.
- Amplify anti-hate solidarity and resources by using these hashtags on social media: #StopAAPIHate #ArtAndActivism #HonorAllOurElders.
Color Our Future Mentorship Program
Launched in November 2020, the Color Our Future Mentoring Program provides PRE-PROFESSIONAL BALLET students a space to continue exploring conversations related to diversity, equity, and inclusion in the arts. The goal for the program is to serve as a bridge between the professional and educational components of Boston Ballet and the performing arts world, empower our next generation to take actionable steps in their own environments, and help shape the future of the arts with an eye toward DEI.
Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Steering Committee
In service of Boston Ballet’s mission, the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) Steering Committee was launched in 2020 to assist the full organization with meaningful, essential growth.
The DEI Steering Committee is co-chaired by Board of Trustees Vice Chair Alison Quirk and BBS Managing Director Dave Czesniuk with Executive Sponsorship from Executive Director Max Hodges and Artistic Director Mikko Nissinen. The committee includes members from across the organization’s staff, artists, faculty, orchestra, board, and senior leadership.
The committee was charged with examining Boston Ballet’s mission, programs, and business to identify and implement improvements in the areas of diversity, equity and inclusion. If you have suggestions or feedback related to this work, please email DEI@BOSTONBALLET.ORG.
The Equity Project
In 2018, Boston Ballet announced that it joined THE EQUITY PROJECT, a partnership program with Dance Theatere of Harlem, The International Association of Blacks in Dance, and Dance/USA. This project brough together a cohort of artistic and executive leaders from 21 professional ballet organizations across North America for in-person meetings and coachings, with the purpose of increasing diversity in all areas of ballet. As part of this project, Boston Ballet dedicated a cross-departmental senior team to examine all facets of hiring, training, audience engagement, and student experience.
In 2018, Boston Ballet launched the CHOREOGRAPHER INITIATIVE, which creates opportunities for female students and professional dancers to develop their choreographic skills by investing in the creation and staging of new works by female artists.
Dance Education for All
Established in 1991, CITYDANCE annual provides up to 3,000 third grade students from more than 130 Boston Public School Classrooms with a tuition-free introduction to dance and ballet. Our approach cultivates an appreciation of movement, enhances cultural awareness, and fosters creativity and self-expression.
ECI ON LOCATION partners with Boys & Girls Clubs of Boston and community centers to provide hundreds of students with tuition-free dance education. In addition, all ECI on Location students have opportunities during the year to attend free Boston Ballet performances at the Citizens Bank Opera House.
Since 2002, the ADAPTIVE DANCE Program has provided creative movement instruction for individuals with disabilities ages 2 through adult. Classes are taught by expert faculty and supported by licensed physical therapists and professional musicians. Students can engage and explore in a safe and supported student environment as they develop movement, musicality, and personal growth.
In 2019, in order to promote a more inclusive and student-centered school environment, Boston Ballet School revised its dress code to allow students to self-select a tight, slipper, and pointe shoe color that best matches their natural skin tone or in which they feel most comfortable. Learn more about CHANGES SPECIFICALLY AT BOSTON BALLET SCHOOL.