Artistic Directors’ Coalition for Ballet in America

Racial inequities and injustice have existed in ballet since its inception and actively working to change this requires a collective.

Following the murder of George Floyd, a group of leaders in the classical ballet and dance fields began meeting regularly to discuss and address how to instigate positive and lasting change within our art form. This collective, the Artistic Directors’ Coalition for Ballet in America, has turned a critical lens on their organizations and has been working since June 2020 to evaluate practices, policies and biases, to brainstorm and share, and to listen and learn from one another. A complete list of participants is outlined below.


Its goals and objectives are directly aligned with their missions, visions and core values, and it is a continuation of their ongoing work and commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion.

#BalletOpenHouse for Pre-Professional Black Dancers and Dancers of Color

The first initiative of the Artistic Directors’ Coalition for Ballet in America is a pilot program called #BalletOpenHouse. This free, two-hour virtual experience is an inside look at each company and school and a chance for Black dancers and dancers of color to explore and experience the vision, the culture, the community, and the philosophy of each organization. The goal is to provide equal access and opportunity for young artists of color so that they feel welcomed, seen, and a part of these organizations’ evolving cultures. These events are intended for pre-professional Black dancers and dancers of color ages 10-18.

New York City Ballet and the School of American Ballet will host two free two-hour virtual visits:

  • April 17* (for ages 10-14), from 2-4PM EDT
  • April 24* (for ages 15-18), from 2-4PM EDT

NYCB and SAB’s #BalletOpenHouse will include:

  • An introduction to New York City Ballet and School of American Ballet (20 minutes)
  • Ballet classes taught by SAB faculty members Aesha Ash and Craig Hall (70 minutes)
  • A talk back and Q&A with SAB faculty, NYCB company dancers, and staff (30 minutes)

Registration for #BalletOpenHouse will be capped at 25 students per session to ensure that all students can actively participate and receive individual attention and feedback during the ballet class.

*Note that the Open House registration is closed. 

Participation in #BalletOpenHouse does not serve as an audition for New York City Ballet or School of American Ballet.

Inaugural Members of Artistic Directors' Coalition for Ballet in America

Inaugural members of Artistic Directors Coalition for Ballet in America include:

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 and School of American 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