Ballet West makes policy changes in effort to be ‘more welcoming to dancers of color’

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SALT LAKE CITY, Utah (ABC4 News) — Ballet West is making policy changes to allow for greater equity for dancers of color.

Thursday, Ballet West announced updates to protocols that guide dancers’ costuming, make-up, pointe shoes, and other aspects of performance in order to make the studio and stage more welcoming to dancers of color.

According to Ballet West, a three-month audit of policies and procedures was conducted by Artistic Director Adam Sklute. The audit was conducted in coordination with dancers, costumes, make-up, and wardrobe. Staff revealed several impediments for dancers of color that created unfair challenges, inequitable preparation time, and inadequate representation, Ballet West says.

Some of the following changes include:

  • Eliminating historic ‘paling’ body make-up for women in such roles as Swan Lake and Giselle
  • Not allowing make-up that attempts to indicate a race or ethnicity, other than the dancer’s own.
  • Tights and shoe straps will be supplied by the Company to artists to more accurately match individual skin tones.
  • The Company will dye pointe shoes and paint canvas flat shoes to match the skin tone of the dancer.

“I believe a more diverse and inclusive organization is a stronger Ballet West,” said Artistic Director Adam Sklute. “It is time we hold a mirror to ourselves and examine how our art form–and how Ballet West–can do better in dismantling systems that do not foster equity and to institutionalize structures that do.”

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