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Symposium 2022

Addressing Racialization in Ballet Symposium

The Inaugural Canada-United States Addressing Racialization in Ballet Symposium took place in Winter 2022.

Art has always been an expression of the human experience. But when an art form fails to respect the dignity of others, it fails as an art form. Ballet wields significant cultural capital and needs to be more inclusive for audiences, performers and management. Without discussion, adaptation and evolution, we will not heal as an art form and as society. Organizations can lead this work toward systemic change through sustained commitment to the legitimacy of equity, diversity and inclusion (EDI).

In Winter 2022, Canada’s National Ballet School (NBS), the Dance Institute of Washington (DIW) and Lauri Fitz-Pegado hosted Addressing Racialization in Ballet, the inaugural Canada-United States symposium, to engage in meaningful and solutions-oriented discussions of equity, diversity and inclusion in the sector. 

With a focus on the three pillars that support the credible pursuit and implementation of the concept - business success, subjectivity of ballet, and the ethical responsibility of the art form - the symposium combines lived experiences, areas of expertise and innovative ideas from a diverse range of multi-generational speakers, panelists and facilitators from Canada and the United States; representing many facets of the arts sector, including administration, performance, instruction, education, and consulting. 

The Addressing Racialization in Ballet Symposium’s objective is to enrich ballet through a comprehensive and holistic exploration of racial equity, diversity and inclusion; to increase understanding of history and context. It is ideal for arts administrators, dance teachers, artists and students. Attendees:

  • Advance their understanding and practice of three EDI pillars that inform why equity matters.      

  • Gain increased historic knowledge, information and facts, context, and empirical information about ballet as it relates to EDI.

  • Experience shifts in awareness and perception of EDI in dance.

  • Gain opportunities for community building and networking.

  • Engage in a space to examine equity by gaining more understanding across cultures, political systems and national histories.

  • Strengthen relationships, increase self-awareness, and enhance understanding of purpose, influences, values, leadership styles, and assets as they relate to EDI.


Session 1

The first session of the Addressing Racialization in Ballet Symposium took place on January 28-29, 2022.

All times are in EST


January 28, 2022

  • 6:00 pm Beyond Land Acknowledgements: Film

    • By Christine Friday, Artistic Director, Producer, Dancer, Choreographer, Filmmaker, Community Activator

  • 6:05 pm Welcome Remarks

    • MP Marci Ien

  • 6:08 pm Official Host Welcome

    • Lauri Fitz-Pegado, Advisor, Author of Dancing in the Dash

    • Kahina Haynes, Executive Director, Dance Institute of Washington

    • Mavis Staines, Artistic Director and CEO, Canada’s National Ballet School

  • 6:15 pm Keynote/In Conversation: Why Equity Matters

    • Speaker: Justin Bobb, Director of Equity, Diversity and Inclusion for Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment (MLSE)

  • 6:30 pm Presentation – History, Ballet and Race

    • Speakers: Dr. Natalie Rouland, Scholar in Residence at The Washington Ballet as well as The Wilson Center

  • 6:45 pm Presentation – Centering Race Equity in the Culture of Ballet Organizations

    • Kerrien Suarez, President, Equity in the Center

  • 6:55 pm Presentation – Theory and Implementation of EDI in the Arts

    • Toni Wilson, Principal of AquaInternational Leadership Consulting 

  • 7:30 pm Panel – Dance Theatre of Harlem: Continuing the Vision

    • Moderator: Judy Tyrus, Co-Founder and CEO, ChromaDiverse, Inc.

    • Anjali Austin, Professor and Chair of Florida State University's School of Dance

    • Kevin Thomas, Artistic Director and Co-Founder, Collage Dance Collective

    • Tyrone Brooks, Artistic Director, The Tallahassee Ballet

  • 8:15 pm Panel – Voices of the Next Generation: Conversation with Emerging Artists

    • Moderator: Natasha Findlay, Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Lead, Canada’s National Ballet School

    • Speakers: Kaitwan Jackson, Education Manager, Heidi Duckler Dance

    • Kiara Marazzi, Grade 11 Student, Etobicoke School of the Arts

    • Simon Adamson DeLuca, Grade 12 Student, Canada’s National Ballet School 


January 29, 2022

  • 10:00 am Beyond Land Acknowledgements: In Conversation

    • Christine Friday, Artistic Director, Producer, Dancer, Choreographer, Filmmaker, Community Activator

    • John Dalrymple, Executive Director, Canada’s National Ballet School 

  • 10:25 am Keynote – Opportunities Missed & What the Future Has In Store For Us

    • Speakers: Reginald (Reggie) Van Lee, Partner and Chief Transformation Officer, The Carlyle Group

  • 11:15 am Panel – Responsibility and Aspirations to Advance Equity in Ballet

    • Moderator: Kevin A. Ormsby, Artistic Director of KasheDance; Program Manager at Cultural Pluralism in the Arts Movement Ontario (CPAMO)

    • Panelists: Bengt Jörgen, Artistic Director, Canada’s Ballet Jörgen

    • Dionne Figgins, Artistic Director of Ballet Tech

    • Julie Kent, Artistic Director, The Washington Ballet, 

    • Nia Faith, Co-Founder, Revolutionnaire; Student at Howard University

  • 12:15 pm Pedagogy and Training Presentations

    • Sandra Fortune-Green, Artistic Director, Jones Haywood Dance School

    • Monica Stephenson, Director of Community Engagement, Miami City Ballet; PhD Student in Dance, Texas Woman’s University; Adjunct Assistant Professor, University of Utah

    • Brandye Lee, Professional Dancer, Collage Dance Collective

    • Speakers: Pedagogy and Training – In Conversation Damien Johnson, Full-time Faculty, The Washington Ballet

    • Keith Morino, Artistic Faculty, Canada’s National Ballet School

    • Ashleigh Powell, Artistic Faculty & Head of Community Dance Programs, Canada’s National Ballet School

  • 1:30 pm Facilitated “Share & Capture” of Questions, Ideas and Reactions

Session 2

The second session of our Addressing Racialization in Ballet Symposium took place on February 4-5, 2022.

All times are in EST


February 4, 2022

  • 6:00 pm - ReConnect Choreographic Process

    • Aïcha Bastien-N’Diaye, Dance artist, Creative Content Creator, AfroIndigenous

    • Starr Muranko, Co-Artistic Director, Raven Spirit Dance

  • 6:03 pm Welcome Remarks

    • The Honourable Wanda Thomas Bernard, PhD, C.M., O.N.S. Senator - Nova Scotia (East Preston)

  • 6:05 pm Recap

    • Lauri Fitz-Pegado, Advisor, Author and Ballet Teacher

  • 6:15 pm Panel – Voices of Current Dancers: Changing Environment...or Not?

    • Moderator: Royce Zackery, Associate Professor, Howard University – Chadwick A. Boseman College of Fine Arts.; Instructor of Ballet and collaborator of Community Engagement and Internships The Washington Ballet, The ARC Townhall Education and Recreation Center, and the Dance Institute of Washington

    • Panelists: Portia Adams, Professional Ballet Dancer, Les ballet de Monte-Carlo

    • Nardia Boodoo, Dancer, The Washington Ballet

    • Livona Ellis, Dancer, Ballet BC

    • Siphesihle November, Principal Dancer, The National Ballet of Canada

  • 7:15 pm Panel – The Role of Awareness and Cultural Competence in Teaching Ballet

    • Moderator: Lauri Fitz-Pegado

    • Panelists: Ronald K. Alexander, Independent Arts Consultant, Dance Educator, and Choreographer

    • John Alleyne, Artistic Advisor, Equity, Diversity & Inclusion, Canada’s National Ballet School

    • Zane Booker, Co-founder of the Kitchen Table Dance Collective: Senior Teacher and Coach at Philadanco

    • Endalyn Taylor, Dean of Dance, School of Dance – University of North Carolina School of the Arts

    • Laurel Toto, Head of Junior School and Rehearsal Director for The Nutcracker, Canada's National Ballet School

  • 8:25 pm Panel – Why EDI is Good Business: Opportunities and Strategies (Administrative Perspectives)

    • Moderator: John Dalrymple, Executive Director, Canada’s National Ballet School

    • Speakers: Rebecca Ferrell, Director of Programs, Dance

    • Laveen Naidu, Director of Dance, The St. James

    • Alix Laurent, Executive Director, L'École supérieure de ballet du Québec

    • Gideon Arthurs, CEO, National Theatre School


February 5, 2022

  • 10:00 am Opening/Welcome & Recap

  • 10:05 am Indigenous Values and Relationship Building through Dance 

    • Margaret Grenier, Executive and Artistic Director, Dancers of Damelahamid Starr Muranko, Co-Artistic Director, Raven Spirit Dance

  • 10:25 am From Learning to Action: Mapping and Measuring Change

    • This session will explore the role of data and evaluation in the integration of equity practices; looking at tools to define, measure and hold ourselves accountable to the change we want to see. Areas of focus will include: The basics and benefits of program evaluation Connecting data to organizational values and principles Frameworks to manage complex goals Community consultation and participatory practice Discussion and questions will be encouraged throughout what we hope will be a lively exchange of ideas. No previous experience with evaluation necessary!

Addressing Racialization in Ballet Symposium

Symposium Speakers & Panelists

The 2022 Symposium convened over 40 multi-generational speakers, panelists and facilitators from Canada and the United States, representing many facets of the arts sector, including administration, performance, instruction, education, and consulting.

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A teacher leads a creative movement class

Educator Resources and Courses

Bring the joy of dance to your classroom! Our ongoing courses and resources for educators will support you in preparing to engage your students through dance.

Symposium hosts:

Addressing Racialization in Ballet Symposium has been generously sponsored by:

Brian Miron

Additional support from:

Ballet Rosa
Bloch Canada
Grishko Canada
Tendu Active

A special thanks to:

The Blidner Family Foundation for their support of NBS initiatives that create equity, diversity and inclusion within dance communities.