I Said, Do You Hear Me Now

Let’s Take A Moment

Dear White American Dance CommunityDear White American Dance Community:

The International Association of Blacks in Dance (IABD) stands with the Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) theatremakers. We support their call and affirm The Ground We Stand On .

We, who are Black, Brown and People of the Global Majority, come together to say to the White American Dance Community: The time of your systems of race preference is over. We are listening, we are watching and are no longer waiting for your stamp of approval.

Fact: America was founded on White supremacy. From 1619, when captured Black people were first brought to these shores, we were enslaved, considered to be property and counted as three-fifths of a person. Ten of the first 12 presidents of this country owned slaves and were part of writing and upholding the law of the land that slaves could not grow or possess their own food, gather in groups, or learn to read.

White American Dance Community, you have designed the system of White supremacy, privilege, institutional racism, micro-aggressions, oppression and stood guard over them. It is time that you face it, own it, unlearn it and dismantle it.

Can You Hear Me Now?

Your system: predominately White dance companies, predominately White administrative and production staff, predominately White suburban dance studios, predominately White dance higher education programs, predominately White agents, critics, curators, educators, funders, historians, managers, presenters, producers and scholars. You all fit together to keep Black, Brown and People of the Global Majority down. Yes, you make your “checked the box” hires to pay lip-service to diversity. Yet, unless we follow the stereotypes you created and are coarse and outrageous, extreme with race rage, risky with sexual/gender statements, or incorporate hip-hop, social dance and other dance forms, we remain invisible to you.

ATTENTION White American Dance Community: Many of you have released statements about BLACK LIVES MATTER. Understand that this moment is about the survival of Black, Brown and People of the Global majority. We—our lives, livelihood and institutions—are at risk. If BLACK LIVES MATTER, then Black Voices matter. Our voices are our dances and they articulate our culture. You have specifically had your “knee on the neck” of Black individuals, and our cultural establishments since their inception. Our organizations were formed as a means of protest, survival and social change in response to fact that we were not included. Spare us the statement that BLACK LIVES MATTER if you can’t support Black culture.

Can You Hear Me Now?

White American Dance Community

A statement is not enough. The ongoing conversations regarding inclusion, diversity, equity, and access, leadership training, EDI statements and plans, education programs, diversity hiring, racial equity workshops for staff and boards in front of donors and foundations as a way to reform these systems are not enough. There has been no movement. Neither the gatekeepers nor the center of power have shifted. Lasting change is not possible without system change.

White American Ballet Companies

So many of you rushed to statements yet in the effort to be anti-racist you neglected to put forward the very questions you should have been struggling with. What do your Black artists and staff members need right now? What type of organizational culture has leadership and staff maintained that oftentimes left Black artists and staff feeling unsupported? Have you institutionalized practices like dependence on Nutcracker to be the financial safety net to balance the poorly attended but well-funded new ballet by a White choreographer? Have you engaged your artists, board, audiences with meaningful conversations on color-conscious casting, body image, equal access to resources and support? Lasting change is not possible without system change.

White American Dance Critics

White Dance Critics are gatekeepers. They must not only have cultural literacy and competency, they must value our cultural expression to be able to review our dances. Reviews are a critical element of artistic sustainability and they also are used to decide whether or not to support a production. The responsibility of the dance critic is to provide the reader with an in-depth analysis and sense of the work. It has been the history of White Dance Critics to be dismissive or treat our work as primitive. Where are the Black Dance Critics?  Lasting change is not possible without system change.

White American Dance Agents, Curators, Managers, Presenters, Producers

We can no longer accept that you “can’t find us” or “you don’t know where to look.” Having only one Black dance company a year during Black history month in a season or the inequitable fee and pay structures for booking and touring engagements, is upholding the system of power. Let’s get rid of that list. We have watched you pit Black dance companies against one another and treat them differently from their White counterparts. And by the way, people’s homes are not equal to hotel rooms, no matter how nice they might be. Lasting change is not possible without system change.

White American Dance Education Programs

White supremacy in higher education practices upholds the system. Ballet and modern are requirements to receive a degree, but our dance forms are all electives. The dance curricula and teachings continue to be centered in White European structures and the history and many contributions of Blacks in dance and dance forms of the African diaspora are not included. Also, who is the dance faculty, scholars, the administration? They must be representative of all. So, too, Black dances and voices must be included in the audition process. Lasting change is not possible without system change.


White American Dance Hiring Practices


Hiring remains a closed system that upholds white supremacy culture. There are plenty of Black choreographers, designers, production staff and dance-related personnel for this industry. The excuse that an individual is not ready for “the big time” is a code for racism. The failure to seek out, hire, promote and fairly compensate your Black artists, administrators, choreographers, designers, and faculty silences their voices and underestimates their power to lift up your organization out of darkness. Having the fortitude to create space for the Black voice to thrive within your institution would disrupt old practices and demonstrate a commitment to not only Black people but to actually do better. Lasting change is not possible without system change.


White American Dance Marketing


Marketing and Sales materials of White American Dance companies long reflected a White supremacist aesthetic. Now that lip service is being paid to diversity, equity, and inclusion, Black, Brown and People of the Global Majority’s bodies are showing up everywhere. More specifically, these bodies are placed on the cover of marketing materials but not as actual leads or principals in a performance. Authentically connecting to a community with the desire to build a relationship, has to be more than skin deep. Stop trying to bait us. Lasting change is not possible without system change.


So, Can You Hear Me Now?


We need you to own this. Deal with your Whiteness. There is a cycle in this country that needs to be broken. You have to do the work. Breaking the cycle takes longer than overnight. Read those books, listen to those podcasts. Process the true history. Only then will lasting change come to the system.

For those of you who immediately pushed back from the table and claimed that their organization was ready to dismantle the white supremacy culture and systems in our field, we invite you to join us as we proactively work to eradicate them. We’ve been speaking about these systems for far too long. Now is the time to dismantle them. We must take action.

White American Ballet and Dance Companies, Agents, Critics, Curators, Educators, Faculty in K-12 and Higher Education, Managers, Presenters, Producers, Scholars, and White Dance Education Programs, you have to see us. Now is the time for you to ask yourselves why you continue to uphold White supremacist practices in dance and why Black people remain invisible in history and every aspect of this field.

We have had enough. Your silence is no longer acceptable. If you want to earn our trust and attention, it must be more than just a statement. You either see all of us as part of this community or you don’t. Change is a form of action. What does it mean for you to really stand in solidarity with us… You are either for Black Lives Matter or you are not.

I Said, Can You Hear Me Now?

Because we don’t hear you at all.


The International Association of Blacks in Dance
   Black, Brown and People of the Global Majority in the Dance Community









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Abdo Sayegh-Rodriguez, Managing Director, TU Dance

Adele Myers, Artistic Director, Adele Myers and Dancers

Adesola Akinleye, Ph.D.

Afaliah Tribune, Artistic Director, Afaliah Tribune Dance

A'Keitha Carey, Dance Educator/Artist/Scholar, Florida Black Artist Dance Organization

Alanna Morris-Van Tassel, Interim Artistic Associate Director, TU Dance

Alejandra Duque Cifuentes, Executive Director, Dance/NYC

Alexandra Dow, Performer

Alexandra Nowakowski, President & CEO, CityDance

Alexandria Davis, Dancer/Choreographer/Teaching Artist

Allyne Gartrell, Atlanta Dance Connection

Alyson Chavez, Director of Community Engagement, Milwaukee Ballet

Amadou Kouyate, Musician and Professor

Amanda Standard, Divine Dance Institute

Amara Tabor-Smith, Artistic Director, Deep Waters Dance Theater

Amy Fitterer, Executive Director, Dance/USA

Angela Peck, Dance Magnet Teacher/Dance Artist, Carver Elementary and Arts Magnet School

Ann Carlson, Choreographer

Ann DiFruscia, Dance Artist

Ann Williams, Founder, Dallas Black Dance Theatre

Annie Morgan, Dance Artist/Social Media Assistant, GroundWorks DanceTheater

Antoinette Coward-Gilmore, Founder, CEO, Artistic Director, Danse4Nia

Antonio C. Cuyler, Associate Professor of Arts Administration, Florida State University (FSU)

Anya & Mitsuko Clarke-Verdery, Co-Founders & Artistic Directors, MICHIYAYA Dance

April Gruber, Dance/USA

Arisa Smith

Arthur Avilés, Co. Founder & Artistic Director the Bronx Academy of Arts and Dance

Asia Weatherford

Augusto Soledade, Associate Professor, University of Florida

Baraka Sele, Independent Consultant

Bat Abbit, Ballet Master, Oakland Ballet Company

Blair Bodie, Co-Founder, BodiGram Dance

Brenda Dixon-Gottschild, Ph.D. Prof., Temple University

C. Brian Williams

Carol Crawford Shelton, CEO, School Degree, LLC

Caroline Cube, Digital Services Specialist, UCLA Library

Carrie Hinrichs, Executive Director, School of American Ballet

Carol Foster, Special Programs Associate, The International Association of Blacks in Dance

Carol Zee, Creative Director of Dance, Academy of Visual and Performing Arts

Cashel Campbell

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Celia Benvenutti

Celine Schein Das, Executive Director, Chitresh Das Institute

Charles Patterson, Company Dancer, Dallas Black Dance Theatre

Charles Augins, Teacher/Choreographer, Duke Ellington School of the Arts

Charli Brissey, Assistant Professor, University of Michigan - Ann Arbor

Cherie Hill, Director of Art in Community, Hope Mohr Dance

Cheryl Banks-Smith, Associate Professor, Dance, Pasadena City College

Christina Hicks, Artistic Director, Patti Rutland Jazz

Christina Johnson, Dance Instructor, Marin Ballet

Christopher Pelham, Director, CRS (Center for Remembering and Sharing)

Christy Bolingbroke

Clarence Brooks, Associate Professor/Director of Dance, Florida Atlantic University

Cleo Parker Robinson, Founder and Artistic Director, Cleo Parker Robinson Dance

Coco Duhon-Kelley, Board Member, Diamano Coura West African Dance Company

Courtney Dean, UCLA Library Special Collections

Cynthia Nazzaro, Professor Emeritus, Springfield College

DaKiya Lambert, Director, Dance Dimensions

Dante Puleio, Artistic Director, Limon Dance Company

David Shimotakahara, Executive Artistic Director, GroundWorks DanceTheater

Davis Robertson, Artistic Director, New York Dance Project

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Deborah Riley, Teaching Artist, Arts for the Aging, Georgetown Hospital, Dance Place

Deborah Slater, Artistic Director, Deborah Slater Dance Theater

Deisha King, Dance Artist

DeMarcus Akeem Suggs, Graduate Assistant, The National Center for Choreography - Akron

Denice Braga, Artist, Dimensions Dance Theater

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Denise Saunders Thompson, President and CEO,The International Association of Blacks in Dance

Devon Carney, Artistic Director, Kansas City Ballet

Diane Jacobowitz, Executive Director/Artistic Director, Dancewave

Dianne McIntyre, Choreographer

Ebonie Barnett, Dimensions Dance Theater

Elaina Thomas, Master Teaching Artist, Kansas City Friends of Alvin Ailey

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Elise Drew León, Manager of Diversity and Inclusion, School of American Ballet

Elise Long, Artistic Director, Spoke the Hub Dancing, Inc.

Elizabeth Speck, Principal, MindOpen Learning Strategies

Elka Samuels Smith, Owner, Divine Rhythm Productions

Emily Hartka, Co-Director/Co-Founder, Charlottesville Ballet

Erica Lynette Edwards

Eva Gonzalez

Eva Yaa Asantewaa, Senior Director of Artist Development and Curation, Gibney

Fatima Logan-Alston, Artistic Director, VashtiDance Theater

Felicia Rosenfeld, Community Advocate, Dance Resource Center

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Francine Sheffield, Founder/CEO, Sheffield Global Arts Management

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Genie Guerard, Curator and Manuscripts Librarian, UCLA Library Special Collections

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grace shinhae jun, Director, Lecturer, bkSOUL arts, UCSD, SD City College

Gregory Patterson, Chair and Associate Professor of Dance, Oakland University

Gwen Coleman

Halifu Osumare, Professor Emerita, University of California, Davis

Hallie Chametzky, Archiving Specialist, Dance/USA

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Heather Robles, Managing Director, The NY Dance and Performance Awards, “The Bessies"

Heather Benson, Freelance Producer and Dance Lecturer

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Jacqui Dugal, Dancer, Choreographer, Arts Administrator

Jane Rabinovitz

Janette Gillis, Dance Educator, Suitland H.S. CVPA, Prince George’s County Public Schools

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Jen Guy Metcalf, Associate Professor of Dance, Elon University

Jenna Pollack, Choreographer, Dancer, Educator, Administrator

Jennifer Edwards, Better Consulting LLC

Jessica Denson, Dance/USA

Jim Leija, Deputy Director for Public Experience & Learning, University of Michigan, Museum of Art

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Jonathan Stafford, Artistic Director, New York City Ballet and The School of American Ballet

Jordan Lloyd, Dance Artist

Juan Pablo Siles

Justin Bryant

Kai Hazelwood, Good Trouble Makers

Karah Abiog, Training Program & Summer Program Director, Alonzo King LINES Ballet

Karen Charles, Artistic/Exec Director, Threads Dance Project

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Kay Mazzo, Chairman of Faculty, School of American Ballet

Kayah Franklin

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Kelly Besser, Library Special Collections Archivist, UCLA Library

Kelly Lester, Professor of Dance, University of Southern Mississippi

Kevin Jeff, Creative Director, Deeply Rooted Dance Theater

Kiana C, Teaching Artist

Kim Clay, Assistant Professor of Dance, University of Northern Colorado

Kimberlee Yates, Artistic Director/Studio Owner/Founder, Above the Barre Performing Arts Academy

Kiri Avela

Kirven Douthit-Boyd, Co-Artistic Director of Dance, Center of Creative Arts - COCA

Klair Ethridge, Executive Director, Tacoma Urban Performing Arts Center

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Latanya Tigner, Dimensions Dance Theater

Laura Tuthall, Hyp-ACCESS

Lauren Addison, Assistant Director, Arts On Site

Lauren Mickle, Dance/Movement Therapist

Leah Tubbs, Founding Artistic Director, MODArts Dance Collective (MADC)

Licia Perea, Director, BlakTinx Dance Festivals

Lilli Stein, Actor, SAG/AFTRA

Linda Goodrich, Retired Professor Emeritus and Former Artistic Director, Sacramento State University/Black Art of Dance

Lionel Popkin, Professor, UCLA

Lisa Traiger, Independent Arts Journalist, 1962

Luana Luana, Executive thinking partner, Bleeker, Inc.

Lula Washington, Artistic Director / Co-Founder, Lula Washington Dance Theatre

Maleni Palacios, Research and Advocacy Coordinator, Dance/NYC

Margaret Carlson, Producing Artistic Director, Verb Ballets

Maria Teresa Houar, PhD Student, Graduate Assistant, University of Hawai'i, Manoa

Marlana Doyle

Mary Verdi-Fletcher, Professional Flair Inc dba Dancing Wheels Company

Mashaune Hardy

Maxine Yamazaki, Administrative Associate, TU Dance

Megan Todd

Melissa Riker, Choreographer, Kinesis Project Dance Theatre

Melissa Rolnick, Associate Professor, Gustavus Adolphus College

Melissa Lineburg, freelance dancer/student, DMV/University of Bridgeport

Michael Novak, Artistic Director, Paul Taylor Dance Company

Michelle Robertson, Engineer, DOD

Michelle Grant-Murray, Artistic Director, Olujimi Dance Theatre

Mike Anestor

Mikko Carter

Missy Beck, Lecturer II, University of Michigan

Molly Christie Gonzalez, Assistant Professor of Dance/Dance Education, UMass Amherst, Certified, Dunham Teacher, Institute for Dunham Technique Certification

Molly Murray, Assistant Director of Student Life, School of American Ballet

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Naomi Diouf, Artistic Director, Diamano Coura West African Dance Company

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Nigel Campbell, Co-Founder & Artistic Director, MOVE|NYC|

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Otis Alexander, Adjunct Professor, Florida Memorial

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Pegge Vissicaro, Executive Director, Cross-Cultural Dance Resources, Inc.

Penny Godboldo, Professor, Dance, University of Michigan

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Robin Wilson, Associate Professor, University of Michigan-Ann Arbor

Ronald Alexander, Educator, Black Arts Institute, Stella Adler School of Acting, The Ailey School

Ronald Lee Newman

Rosemary Johnson, Executive Director, Alabama Dance Council

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Saidiya Chiphe, Professional Modern Contemporary Dancer, Deeply Rooted Dance Theater

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Sheila A. Ward, Co-/Executive Director, Eleone Dance Theatre

Shirley Duncan, Teacher, Charm City Dancers

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Staci Turner, CEO and Founder, Limitless Performing Arts

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Tamica Washington-Miller, Associate Director, Lula Washington Dance Theatre

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Teresa Barnett, Head, UCLA Center for Oral History Research, UCLA

Tiffany Rea-Fisher, Artistic Director/ Choreographer, Elisa Monte Dance

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Tobie Stein, Professor, Emerita, Brooklyn College

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Trent Williams, Jr. Assistant Professor of Modern Dance and Choreography, University of Florida

Vanessa Sanchez, Choreographer/Director, La Mezcla

Veronica Gonzalez, Property Manager

Veronica Morgan-Lee, Director of Fund Development, Hill Dance Academy Theatre

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Virginia Johnson, Artistic Director, Dance Theatre of Harlem

Waverly Lucas, Co-Founder/Resident Choreographer, Ballethnic Dance Company

Wendy Whelan, Associate Artistic Director, NYCBallet

Yoav Kaddar, Professor/Director of Dance, West Virginia University

Yvonne Curry, Choreographer

Zane Booker