Boston Ballet Celebrates Pride - Boston Ballet

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Boston Ballet Celebrates Pride

Left to right: Alicia Greene, Luciano Aimar, Lisa McCullough, Ezra Lovesky, Howard Merlin, Derek Dunn

Left to right: Photos by The Suki Studio, Luciano Aimar, Liza Voll, Lisa McCullough, Brooke Trisolini, Jingzi Photography

Join us in celebrating Pride at Boston Ballet, a time dedicated to promoting self-affirmation, dignity, equality, and increased visibility of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and/or questioning (LGBTQ+) community. Six members of the Boston Ballet family share their stories as LGBTQ+ artists and business leaders, the ways they celebrate Pride throughout the year, and the importance of embracing and amplifying diverse voices in the arts and beyond.

Ezra Lovesky

Photo by Brooke Trisolini

Derek Dunn in Mikko Nissinen's Swan Lake

Photo by Rosalie O'Connor


When did you know you wanted to be a professional dancer?
The first time I competed at a ballet competition, I was exposed to a whole new world. I saw so many other young boys who were just as passionate about ballet as I was, and that inspired me to continue training and pursuing ballet professionally.

Are there specific types of ballets you really enjoy?
Every time I perform a ballet by WILLIAM FORSYTHE, I am reminded of how much joy dancing brings me. His choreography is physically demanding and so much fun to dance.

I also really enjoy performing story ballets. There is something so special about diving into a new character. Sharing raw emotions on stage is a feeling unlike any other, and with each new role you get to bring out a different part of yourself. Some of my favorites that I’ve done so far are Mercutio (Romeo & Juliet), Albrecht (Giselle), Siegfried (Swan Lake), and the Prodigal Son (Prodigal Son).

Who or what inspires you?
I draw a lot of inspiration from my life outside of work. I believe that outside experiences broaden your mind and allow you to connect with the audience in a more authentic way. And of course, I am also constantly inspired by my incredible colleagues, who I learn from every day.

What does Pride mean to you?
To me, Pride is all about self-love. As humans, we are constantly learning more about ourselves, and there is a lot of power in loving every part of yourself and standing proud in your skin.

What are some of the ways you are celebrating Pride, this month or throughout the year?
Throughout the year, I like to celebrate Pride by supporting LGBTQIA+ businesses. In the past, I’ve celebrated Pride by traveling to one of my favorite getaway destinations – Provincetown, MA – with my good friend and colleague, Alec Roberts. I’ve also danced at the Fire Island Dance Festival, presented by Dancers Responding to AIDS, which is an organization that strongly impacts the LGBTQ+ community.

Why do you think LGBTQ+ representation matters in the arts?
Like any field, representation of all kinds is so important. LGBTQ+ representation is important in the arts because so much of what we do is about reflecting life around us and telling stories of all backgrounds and experiences. This kind of art can create a safe space for those who don’t otherwise have one.

What is your message for aspiring dancers who identify as LGBTQ+?
My message would be to continue embracing yourself to the fullest! When you live authentically, you cultivate real and genuine connections. You can then bring those experiences into your art, and draw your emotions from a real place, creating powerful messages.

Your presence in this field is an inspiration to so many, and it will give others the confidence to pursue their dreams while staying true to themselves.

What local LGBTQ+ businesses or organizations should we amplify?
There are plenty of local LGBTQ+ owned businesses! But a couple of my favorites include KOHI COFFEE CO. in Boston and STRANGERS & SAINTS in Provincetown.

FENWAY HEALTH is also an incredible organization that provides the best quality care to the LGBTQIA+ community.


Explain your role with Boston Ballet. What does a “day in the life” look like?
Mine is a fairly versatile position that entails everything from design and costume creation, to overseeing the costume maintenance and theater organization. Essentially, I help build the costumes and then follow them into the theater, to take charge of managing them for the full run of each performance.

Are there specific types of projects you really enjoy?
I particularly enjoy costume builds. There’s something extremely gratifying in bringing a design from paper into the real world, and then watching it become a part of a larger performance.

What does Pride mean to you?
For me personally, I feel that Pride is the process of accepting and loving yourself for who you are. It also speaks to being a part of a larger community and being able to feel safe within the identity you’ve built for yourself and for those you surround yourself with.

Why do you think LGBTQ+ representation matters in the arts?
I think representation of all kinds is especially important for the arts. Art is a means of expressing oneself and communicating concepts that transcend cultural and socio-economic barriers. To say it plainly, art is for everyone, and for a patron to be able to recognize something of oneself and one’s own personal journey is what makes art such a formidable platform of communication.

What local LGBTQ+ businesses or organizations should we amplify?
The HUMAN RIGHTS CAMPAIGN is currently considered the largest advocacy group in the country and is a vital organization focused on the protection and expansions of rights for the LGBTQ community.

PFLAG is also a great organization for the protection of the LGBTQ community. It particularly focuses on families and their allies.


Explain your role as Director of Audience Services. What does a “day in the life” look like?
I have been working for Boston Ballet for 24 years. I studied theater and film in college and thought I would end up directing or in stage management. I discovered the Box Office and really loved it. I get a lot of satisfaction out of creating campaign strategies, analyzing sales and trends, and providing customer service to our patrons. I also really like leading a team. I have been very fortunate to have worked with and mentored some amazing people over the years.

There is no typical day for me. I usually have a set “to do” list and work through it, but every day is slightly different. I’m proactively coming up with new ideas and reacting to the sales I’m seeing, but also, I have to be agile and respond to the needs of the patrons and my fellow colleagues. I have always been appreciative and felt blessed that I make my living helping to put art on stage. Those feelings have been magnified since the pandemic. I am humbled by the love, support, and dedication of our audience members.

What do you love most about your job?
I love the changes and the challenges that my job provides. It keeps me entertained. Preparing for and building a new season, creating a subscription campaign with my colleagues, tracking and reporting on a successful effort or figuring out how to tweak a not so successful effort…I love it all. I really enjoy working with people, motivating them, and if I can give them a chuckle, I’m even happier. I love helping people. The Box Office is a central point for our patrons and for my fellow colleagues. My team is awesome. They have to know so many things; it’s a lot of work. Sales and customer service is no joke. The Box Office isn’t just about selling tickets; we are selling an experience and want everyone to feel good about attending. A smiling face, a kind word, that extra mile…it really matters.

Who or what inspires you?
I have two: my Mom and Dad inspire me. They have been married for 55 years. They were both science teachers (retired now), and they raised four daughters on teachers’ salaries. We had family dinners together and they were involved in our lives. I am a very lucky person to have the parents and family that I do.

I am inspired by the words and music of folk singer Ani DiFranco. I was introduced to Ani around age 19. The first album I bought of hers was “Not A Pretty Girl”. The title interested me. I was taking psychology classes in college and was heavy into female empowerment (still am!). That album was the first time I heard a woman talking about being bisexual. I think I always knew that I was, but I didn’t verbalize it until over a year later. Ani made me feel like it was okay to be me. I have seen her in concert 29 times. She continues to inspire me with her words, music, actions, and beliefs.

What does Pride mean to you?
Pride means celebration, fun, love, and joy. And everyone is invited to the party!!

Why do you think LGBTQ+ representation matters in the arts?
Representation matters, period, for any marginalized or underrepresented group. When my wife and I see even commercials on TV that feature a gay or lesbian couple, we are thrilled to see it. It’s so great to see someone that represents you on TV, in the movies, or on stage. There’s still a long way to go, but I see things shifting and it makes me proud.

What local LGBTQ+ businesses or organizations should we amplify?
There are many local businesses that support, help, and feature LGBTQ+ people like CLUB CAFÉ and FENWAY HEALTH. My wife and I have donated to THE TREVOR PROJECT, a nonprofit that provides crisis support for LGBTQ+ youth.

Anything else you want to share?
My wife and I have been together for 14 years and married going on 11 years. Standing in front of my family and friends and committing ourselves to one another was the best day of my life. And I had the party of my life. Now I worry about my federal marriage rights. I hope that our marriage is honored and protected by my own country, but I don’t know. It’s a sad and angry feeling to worry that your marriage might be negated. I am a positive person and I tend to think with hope. I also think that most people don’t really care who I love and spend my time with. That’s what love is love is love is love means. Acceptance and joy that someone else found someone else in this world who wants to be with them.



Explain your role with Boston Ballet School. What does a “day in the life” look like?
My day is a combination of teaching classes to children ages 2 to 8 years old, talking and answering questions with parents and families, and training and mentoring teachers in the Children’s Program.

What do you love most about your job?
I love to find new ways to reach my students. I keep asking myself how children learn things, and I keep being fascinated by finding that there is not just one way. I believe the role of us teachers is not just to teach but to facilitate, to encourage children to find their way and learn to move in the world.

Who inspires you?
My students. But also my mentor was and still is Maria Fux. She is now over 100 years old, and I was lucky to be her student when I studied dance therapy. She taught me that dance is for everyone; it’s a language not only of our body but also of our true self.

What does Pride mean to you?
It reminds me that I am not alone.

Why do you think LGBTQ+ representation matters in the arts?
I have never thought or felt that LGBTQ was not represented in the arts. For me, ballet, the dance studio, the stage, has always been the space where I felt safe, where I was free to be who I am.

Anything else you’d like to share?
I think Boston Ballet does a good job in making LGBTQ people feel welcome. So I would say, “Keep up the good work!”

Alicia Greene

Photo by The Suki Studio


Explain your role with Boston Ballet. What does a “day in the life” look like?
A “day in the life” for me looks like developing strategies to ensure meaningful and sustainable two-way partnerships for all of Boston Ballet’s educational programs, community events, and mainstage programs.  I develop these strategies by focusing on a “Collective Impact” approach to community engagement.  Collective Impact is a collaborative approach to tackling complex challenges by bringing people together in a structured way to achieve major change.

Are there specific types of projects you really enjoy? What project are you most proud of?
I look for projects where students engage in meaningful experiences outside of the classroom that connect to their passions, accelerate learning, provide opportunities to explore college and career pathways, build their resumes, and provide them with necessary social capital to thrive in the world beyond Boston Ballet’s studios.

Who inspires you?
My parents inspire me. They have always encouraged me to follow my dreams and loved me unconditionally through it all!

What does Pride mean to you?
Being unapologetically present in the world. I am proud to be Black and LGBTQ+.  Living authentically is a revolutionary act.

Why do you think LGBTQ+ representation matters in the arts / business?
Representation matters everywhere! Representation can serve as opportunities for minoritized people to find community support and validation. Representation also counteracts negative stereotypes. We are more than just our “labels”.  Arts organizations and businesses sharing the truth about all human experiences makes representation matter. In these times, the “call to action” is one that we all must answer.

What local LGBTQ+ businesses or organizations should we amplify?
I am and will always be a youth worker first. I love and have worked with these organizations that support our LGBTQ+ youth: BOSTON GLASSBAGLYMTPCGLSENFENWAY HEALTH, and GLAD.



Explain your role with Boston Ballet. What does a “day in the life” look like?
I start working as early as 8:30am by opening the doors to the Costume Shop and answering emails from various designers and vendors. Since we produce new work and refurbish existing stock here in the Boston Ballet Costume Shop, some designers of these projects are from other countries, so time difference is key to get responses. This time, up until about 10am when the staff starts, is crucial to get my day rolling. Once everyone is in the Shop, I am busy with making sure staff needs are met to complete the creation processes, as well as working with the Costume Shop & Workroom Coordinator to make sure each production that the Company and School have planned is getting the attention they need. Fittings begin around 11:30am and can go as late as 6:30pm. It’s a day of multi-tasking from fittings, to attending the various meetings planned, working on the current and next season’s projects, and even the following seasons. Depending on the day and if we are in tech for a show, I would then venture to the theater to watch rehearsals to make sure all is looking its best, which ends around 11pm.

Who inspires you?
My husband inspires me. He keeps me grounded “when the kettle is boiling.” Working in the non-profit sector can be very challenging and chaotic at times. His words of wisdom are truly inspiring and keep me moving forward.

What does Pride mean to you?
Living in the Northeast and working in the arts sector, I am able to be myself as a Jewish Gay man. Yakov Dov, my husband, and I were one of the first couples to apply for our marriage license in Newton, MA on May 17, 2004, when it became legal to apply. We waited outside the city building starting at around 4:30am to make sure we were one of the first to apply. We were the second couple.

Why do you think LGBTQ+ representation matters in the arts / business?
Having representation of all the diverse groups of human beings is what makes art.

We are proud to stand with our LGBTQ+ family, friends, and allies at Boston Ballet, and this article is in no way representative of the full breadth of diverse voices across our organization.