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The Blog

November 28, 2019

The dance world is small, and the studio environment even smaller. I think that even as teenagers we knew that we needed each other. Because no one else would understand that pain like the person living it right beside us. Now that I am older, perhaps that greatest wisdom I could impart on young dancers is to cherish these friendships, and to realize they will mean more than any part or audition outcome.

I recently met the mother of a young ballet dancer in a major ballet school who is struggling. She told me near tears how worried she is for her 12-year-old daughter. There were a lot of red flags, her child was showing disinterest in attending performances she would have previously loved to go to, teachers said she seemed “distant” in class, and she was breaking down, daily, about her hair not being just right. “My teacher will say I look sloppy” she would cry to her mother in frustration. And then she shared another fact, that her daughter is biracial.

Like so much of the nonprofit community, dance institutions are on a mission to be more inclusive and diversify their ranks of dancers. This is in part because it is the right thing to do, and because major funders are pushing these arts institutions to do so in order to receive funding. A noble, but perhaps short-sighted pursuit. 
 

It is, of course, important to break down racial barriers in dance. Schools with resources should have ou...

October 31, 2018

 

When dance patrons poured into the Benedum Center Sunday afternoon, they did so with the heaviest of hearts, grief clung to their faces. We had all arrived to celebrate the final performance of Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre star, Julia Erickson. But just 24 hours earlier a white nationalist had entered a synagogue in Squirrel Hill, just 2.5 miles from my home, and slaughtered 11 people, injuring six more, with an AR 15 assault rifle. When I entered the theatre I worried that the events might also destroy the joy of watching this final dance by someone I love so deeply. But I found something else.

The day before I had departed my home with my almost-three-year-old daughter in tow at 9:45 am – the same moment the shooter entered the Tree of Life synagogue. We loaded into the car and sped off down Pittsburgh’s main artery of 376 West to arrive at the Children’s Museum right when they would open at 10 am.  As the Squirrel Hill exit entered my rear view, I noticed three cop cars flying down the...

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