Dancing Around Race/Ethnicity

I received a scholarship from American Ballet Theatre for my internship this summer through their initiative called Project Plie. The aim? To increase diversity in the field of arts administration. At the time of applying for it and even after receiving it, I didn’t think too much of it, honestly. Ah, yes. A scholarship for minorities, I’ll just apply to this and see what happens… But, after a month and a half at a national dance organization, I’ve really struggled to dissect and understand my thoughts and feelings after experiencing the intersection of race and professional dance for the first time.

I think ABT is making waves with their Project Plie program. They help sponsor interns, teachers, and students of color. They’re actively trying to increase the diversity of who works in the professional world of dance– and I love it. I wholeheartedly support and love it. But, there is still a long way to go: I am one of two non-Caucasian interns out of 12 this summer. I am one of three non-Caucasian people in my office at work. I talked with one of the senior members about this, and she mentioned that she’s one of four African-American’s in the 70 person senior staff. So, it’s a little frustrating, but moreover, it’s weird to me.

I grew up in a decent sized town where the plurality of my classmates were Asian, but also included typically a great mix of racial and ethnic diversity. I then went to Michigan with the expectation of also having a diverse set of peers. So, going to my first “real” office job, I think I unconsciously carried that expectation with me. So, it unnerves me that I don’t see more racial diversity around me… Moreover, I’ve started, for maybe the first time, to question whether or not there are things that happen to or around me solely because of my race.

But, I, for the first time, have really had to sit down and think about how my race intersects with my work life. And, I am struggling to figure it out.


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