Where Are All the Black Swans?

How come there are still so few black women in ballet? As Dance Theatre of Harlem makes its comeback this year, many dance fans are looking at the rosters of other major American ballet companies, and wondering why, in 2013, there is still so little diversity. Some say the African American community just isn't interested enough in ballet. Others believe it's because the powerful-black-woman stereotype doesn't mesh with the ideal of an ethereal sylph. Some point out the cultural insensitivity inherent in ballet (see: La Bayadére's wild Fakirs, Le Corsaire's wicked Lankendem, Petrouchka's black-faced Blackamoor, all of Nutcracker, Act II). While expensive professional training is a barrier to entry no matter the skin tone, there's also the catch-22 that with no black principals to look up to, young students don't have enough role models to follow.


Only the most determined manage to overcome so many hurdles. This Monday, March 4, Virginia Johnson, DTH artistic director (and Pointe's founding editor), will sit down with American Ballet Theatre soloist Misty Copeland, DTH dancer Ashley Murphy and former Les Ballets de Monte Carlo dancer Raven Wilkinson to share their personal stories of being black in ballet, and how they've found success despite so many obstacles. The conversation and performance will take place at The Greene Space in New York City, as part of the EMANCIPATION 150 series. Find more details here.

Latest Posts

Left to right: Dance Theatre of Harlem's Daphne Lee, Amanda Smith, Lindsey Donnell and Alexandra Hutchinson in a scene from Dancing Through Harlem. Derek Brockington, Courtesy Dance Theatre of Harlem

Dancers Share Their Key Takeaways After a Year of Dancing on Film

Creating dances specifically for film has become one of the most effective ways that ballet companies have connected with audiences and kept dancers employed during the pandemic. Around the world, dance organizations are finding opportunities through digital seasons, whether conceiving cinematic, site-specific pieces or filming works within a traditional theater. And while there is a consistent sentiment that nothing will ever substitute the thrill of a live show, dancers are embracing this new way of performing.

Keep reading SHOW LESS
Alexandra McMaster

Start Your Dance Day With This Delicious Berry Breakfast Crisp Recipe

When it comes to breakfast, I want it to be easy and convenient but still taste delicious. My Berry Breakfast Crisp is just that. You can bake the crisp on the weekend as meal prep, then enjoy it throughout the week cold or warmed in the microwave. It freezes well, too!

Keep reading SHOW LESS
Liam Scarlett with Marianela Nuñez and Ryoichi Hirano during a rehearsal of his Swan Lake at The Royal Ballet. Andrej Uspenski, Courtesy ROH

Choreographer Liam Scarlett Has Died

Over the weekend, news broke that 35-year-old choreographer Liam Scarlett, a former artist in residence at The Royal Ballet, died suddenly at his home in England. "It is with great sadness that we announce the tragic, untimely death of our beloved Liam," Scarlett's family said in a brief statement. "At this difficult time for all of our family, we would ask that you respect our privacy to enable us to grieve our loss."

The cause of death was not disclosed.

Keep reading SHOW LESS

Editors' Picks