The historical inequities in the field of ballet have continued for far too long, and Atlanta Ballet is wholly committed to bringing about authentic change to its organization and the institution of ballet. The essence of our art form is rooted in human connection, synergy and togetherness, and in every single Atlanta Ballet class, rehearsal, performance, meeting or event, we are able to witness the magic that occurs when a group of individuals with different backgrounds, complexions and mindsets come together to create art. In order to see this kind of magic reach its full potential throughout the entire organization, Atlanta Ballet needs to work even harder in regards to diversity and inclusion in order to achieve its below goals:
- For the composition of Atlanta Ballet to more fully reflect the diversity of our community
- For our performances to attract and resonate with Atlanta’s diverse communities
- For everyone who works at Atlanta Ballet to feel valued for their contributions and competencies
- For everyone in the Atlanta Ballet community, including students and their families at the Centre, to have a sense of belonging, regardless of race, color, gender, age, ethnicity, socio-economic background, religion, or sexual orientation
While Atlanta Ballet is proud to provide the Atlanta community with a globally diverse group of professional dancers, we acknowledge that, on stage, we fall short in reflecting the racial diversity of the city our company represents. As the state ballet of Georgia and the largest professional ballet company in Atlanta, we understand how important it is for Atlanta Ballet to better reflect the demographics of our city and to provide our young audiences with opportunities to see people who look like them on-stage and behind-the-scenes.
Atlanta Ballet has been working systematically and with resolve for quite some time to address these issues and others that are central to diversity, equity and inclusion. In 2018, Atlanta Ballet commissioned an independent assessment to examine its efforts in diversity, equity and inclusion, and to make recommendations in this area. In addition to providing great insight regarding those specific efforts, this assessment also helped Atlanta Ballet identify other areas in which the overall organizational culture might be improved.
Since then, Atlanta Ballet has completely revised its strategic plan to ensure that diversity, equity and inclusion are culturally-coded into Atlanta Ballet’s DNA. While diversity, equity and inclusion have always been a priority for Atlanta Ballet, it is now officially woven throughout every facet of the organization. Our commitment to promoting greater diversity and inclusion at Atlanta Ballet is manifest in several important foundational steps we started taking in 2018, including:
The Equity Project
- Atlanta Ballet is a participant in The Equity Project: Increasing the Presence of Blacks in Ballet, a three-year partnership program to support the advancement of racial equity in professional ballet companies.
- Administered by Dance Theatre of Harlem, The International Association of Blacks in Dance (IABD), and Dance/USA, and with funding by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, The Equity Project brings together a cohort of artistic and executive leaders from 21 large budget, professional ballet organizations for in-person meetings and coaching, with the purpose of increasing the presence of Blacks in ballet in all areas of the industry.
Atlanta Ballet’s Transformation Team
- Atlanta Ballet established its first official Transformation Team, which is an internal committee made up of representatives from all sectors of the Atlanta Ballet organization who help plan and monitor diversity and inclusion initiatives within the company.
We are proud of the progress we have made to date – including professional diversity and inclusion training, instituting diverse hiring practices, and hiring and commissioning administrative employees and creative artists of color. However, we have so much more work to do. We are dedicated to working with and listening to our community – patrons, partners, employees, dancers, and community leaders – to make our organization the best it can possibly be.
Significant initiatives currently in progress are as follow:
Atlanta Ballet Centre for Dance Education’s Academy:
- Atlanta Ballet Centre for Dance Education has recently restructured its pre-professional training program as a way to bridge the gap between education and opportunities for employment as a professional dancer. A primary focus of the Academy is to proactively recruit and train qualified students of all backgrounds.
- Those dancers who have the talent, mindset and commitment required to become a professional dancer will receive invitations to the training program, starting with Academy and continuing beyond the Academy levels.
- The Centre for Dance Education will provide merit scholarships, financial aid, as well as developmental and social support for these dancers, as appropriate.
- The Centre for Dance Education will train these select young dancers with the ultimate goal of nurturing dancers for the professional Company at Atlanta Ballet and the worldwide stage.
- By heightening the quality of training and offering a balanced repertoire featuring classical, neoclassical and contemporary dance styles, Atlanta Ballet’s profile will continue to elevate, making it even more attractive to a diverse corps of dancers.
Atlanta Ballet Centre for Dance Education’s “Decade 2 Dance” Initiative*:
- Atlanta Ballet Centre for Dance Education has prioritized a groundbreaking initiative designed to serve and support the next generation of Black and Brown dancers.
- On average, it takes 10 years for a ballet student to become a classically trained, professional dancer. With those statistics in mind, this new initiative will offer dancers as young as eight years old the training, mentorship and academic support required to sustain a professional dancer’s decade-long journey to success.
Expanding Auditioning and Recruitment Events
- In a concerted effort to discover talented and more diverse dancers, Atlanta Ballet and its Centre for Dance Education are hosting and attending top competitions and auditions for the professional and training companies on a local, national and international level.
- Atlanta Ballet will continue to attend the International Association of Blacks in Dance (or similar) audition every year.
Diverse Artistic Programming
- Atlanta Ballet aims to pursue artistic programming that resonates with the diverse communities of Atlanta by commissioning choreographers, designers and artists who represent different backgrounds and dances styles.
- Atlanta Ballet also has a goal to regularly collaborate with other Atlanta-based artists and organizations, bringing other talents, voices and perspectives to the stage.
Internal Diversity Training and D&I Certification
- Atlanta Ballet staff and artists are required to participate in diversity training led by certified professionals. This training is also provided to all members of the Board of Trustees.
- Two representatives of the Atlanta Ballet will receive Diversity & Inclusion certification to facilitate ongoing initiatives and onboarding of new employees.
Peer Mentorship Program
- Atlanta Ballet will welcome each new employee with a peer mentor to support their onboarding experience, foster open communication, and facilitate training and access to organizational resources.
Organization-wide Town Hall Meetings
- Atlanta Ballet will host quarterly “Town Hall” meetings to include full staff, full- and part-time faculty, and artists. The purpose of these gatherings is to keep everyone in the organization informed about current activities, future plans and strategies, and to give every member of the internal Atlanta Ballet family the opportunity to make comments, ask questions and share perspective.
- Anonymous post-meeting surveys will be distributed after each Town Hall to gauge reactions and provide those attendees who preferred not to speak publicly the opportunity to share their comments and ask questions privately.
Employee Hiring & Board Recruiting Practices
- All open positions will be posted to encourage a diverse applicant pool. Practicing inclusive recruitment will help the Atlanta Ballet team grow efficiently, create happier employees, build stronger and more effective teams, and forge a more innovative environment.
- Atlanta Ballet will continue to build a diverse Board of Trustees and diverse Advisory Council that reflect the Atlanta community.
*Thank you to Bloomingdale's for their support of Atlanta Ballet Centre for Dance Education's "Decade 2 Dance" Initiative.