Artistic Directors’ Coalition for Ballet in America

The spring of 2020 ushered in a moment of reckoning. Issues of racism, civil rights, and basic human decency permeated our collective consciousness and called us all in to make change. Ballet, along with the rest of the performing arts world engaged in conversations about our shortcomings and our role in creating a better, more inclusive future.

A group of leaders in classical ballet and dance assembled to create the Artistic Directors’ Coalition for Ballet in America to discuss and address how the collective could affect positive changes within our art form. Over the course of the last eight months, the group has turned a critical lens on our organizations to evaluate practices, policies and biases, to brainstorm and share, and to listen and learn from one another. Over time, this group has continued to grow and a complete list of the participants can be found below. Creating real change while fostering greater trust in our organizations is a key part of the objective.

A first step in fostering an inclusive future is to provide opportunities at the educational level. The first pilot program is #BalletOpenHouse, an opportunity for each company to create a free virtual visit for Black dancers and dancers of color to explore and experience the vision, culture, community, and philosophy within each company and school. This initiative is only the first, and our hope is the participation, collaboration, and involvement of all our companies will help redefine ballet as a more welcoming, diverse, and inclusive art form for the future.


Pacific Northwest Ballet School will host two free two-hour virtual visits on March 13 and April 10. PNB’s Open Houses will be hosted by PNB School and are intended to provide an overview of PNB School for pre-professional Black dancers and dancers of color. The Open Houses are not an audition and are being created for advanced and dedicated ballet students. Find information about Company Auditions here.

PNB School’s Open House will Include

An introduction to PNB and PNB School
A ballet class taught by Artistic Director Peter Boal
A choreography seminar
A Q&A with upper level students from PNB School, PNBS faculty and staff

Space is prioritized for Black dancers. Open House sizes will be kept small (25 students per session) to allow for individual attention and feedback during the ballet class and choreography seminar.

Thank you on behalf of the inaugural group of individuals and companies launching Artistic Directors Coalition for Ballet in America – Pilot Program for African American Inclusion.

Kyle Abraham, Artistic Director, A.I.M
Lauren Anderson, Associate Director, Education & Community Engagement, Houston Ballet
Peter Boal, Artistic Director, Pacific Northwest Ballet
Nigel Campbell, Company Director, Gibney Company
Jodie Gates, Founding Director, USC Kaufman. Artistic Director, Laguna Dance Festival
Christina Johnson, Artist, Instructor and Coach
Virginia Johnson, Artistic Director, Dance Theatre of Harlem
Julie Kent, Artistic Director, The Washington Ballet
Edwaard Liang, Artistic Director, Ballet Met
Lourdes Lopez, Artistic Director, Miami City Ballet
Mikko Nissinen, Artistic Director, Boston Ballet
Desmond Richardson, Artistic Director, Complexions Contemporary Ballet
Dwight Rhoden, Artistic Director, Complexions Contemporary Ballet
Adam Sklute, Artistic Director, Ballet West
Jonathan Stafford, Artistic Director, New York City Ballet
Helgi Thomasson, Artistic Director, San Francisco Ballet
Denise Saunders Thompson, President and CEO, The International Association of Blacks in Dance
Stanton Welch, Artistic Director, Houston Ballet
Ashley Wheater, Artistic Director, Joffrey Ballet
Wendy Whelan, Associate Artistic Director, New York City Ballet