The School of American Ballet considers the artistic representation of cultural and racial diversity as essential to the art form. As a premier training academy whose graduates are poised to join and ultimately head dance organizations worldwide, SAB recognizes its responsibility in creating a community that embodies equity and inclusion through its behaviors, policies, and practices. We acknowledge and accept that longstanding barriers facing dancers of color at the School and in our art form have existed for decades and continue to impact our field in significant ways. SAB believes that it must be proactive in ensuring access to its auditions and training, as well as in providing the necessary financial, developmental, and social support for qualified students of all backgrounds.
The School’s Diversity Initiative first launched in 2012 with the intention of bringing more dancers of color to professional stages. Since then, the School has experienced significant changes in the student body which has inspired deeper organizational transformation across the organization. No longer an initiative, the School’s commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion is now becoming a lived-priority of the organization and its members. As of September 2023, 60% of our students identify as students of color, a significant transformation of our student body (from 25% students of color in 2012), and 73 dancers of color have been placed at professional companies since the Initiative began.
From 2018-2020, SAB was one of twenty-one ballet organizations that participated in The Equity Project: Increasing the Presence of Blacks in Ballet. This important effort was led by Dance Theatre of Harlem, Dance/USA, and the International Association of Blacks in Dance and is described as “a collaborative learning community and cohort committed to achieving diversity and inclusion in professional ballet.”
Following our participation in The Equity Project, SAB’s Transformation Team was formed. This cross departmental group of staff and faculty confer on school-wide policy and cultural changes related to diversity, equity, and inclusion. In partnership with DEI consultants, the Transformation Team created SAB’s 5-year Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Strategic Plan in January 2020. Since then, SAB has made significant investment in capacity building and learning opportunities for its board, staff, and students, including the distribution of a weekly newsletter titled the DEI Digest, which features content and resources centered on the performing arts that resonate with the values of diversity, equity, and inclusion.
Statement of Vision and Commitment to Diversity, Anti-Racism, Equity, And Inclusion
The School of American Ballet is accelerating and deepening our work to become a broadly diverse, anti-racist, inclusive, and equitable organization. We hold ourselves accountable for creating and sustaining a culture that values and welcomes artists, students, family members, administrative staff, and Board members of diverse races, ethnicities, gender identities, sexual orientations, abilities and disabilities, and religions. Through this process, we strive for artistic, administrative, and student life professionals to see, train, and nurture our diverse and talented students as individuals and support their growth in and out of the studio. We also endeavor for our entire community to practice compassion, empathy, and support for one another, the student body, and their families. We commit to creating more pathways of dialogue for learning, welcoming the free expression of multiple perspectives, and upholding the highest standards of excellence and inclusion in all our behaviors.
Established in January 2020 as part of the School’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Strategic Plan, these core values are what guide the school in the development of its behaviors, policies, and practices.
ARTISTIC AND TEACHING EXCELLENCE
SAB values our distinguished legacy of artistic and teaching excellence as the official yet independent school of New York City Ballet and embraces our leadership in the ballet field. We are committed to preparing young artists for professional dance careers in companies throughout the world by educating and nurturing each student as an individual.
HOLISTIC STUDENT WELL-BEING
SAB prioritizes the overall wellness of each student throughout their time at the School. We help students develop confidence in their individuality by providing them with opportunities to actively engage with their own learning, professional development, and personal growth in our school and society. We support and respect the personal agency of each student.
ANTI-RACIST, INCLUSIVE, AND EQUITABLE ORGANIZATIONAL PRACTICES
The SAB community includes faculty, pianists, students, families, administrative staff, alumni, and Board members. Together, we are accountable for creating and sustaining an organization that is broadly diverse, actively anti-racist, and intentionally inclusive and equitable in all behaviors, actions, and decisions. We embrace personal and organizational humility as we remove structural barriers to accomplishment, seek honest feedback, and pursue personal and organizational learning about equity and inclusion with the goal of continuous growth. SAB is committed to embodying anti-racist practices in all our work.
COLLABORATION AND INTERDEPENDENCE
SAB embraces an organizational and ballet culture characterized by open and transparent communication and habitual dialogue. We recognize the interdependent nature of our work and believe that collaboration, communication, and alignment among our community members, within our partner organization New York City Ballet, and across the ballet field are essential to the long-term relevance and viability of our organizational mission and vision.
Inspired by our core values and co-created by staff and students in fall 2021, SAB’s Community Agreements are a set of behaviors that we agree to embrace and embody for the good of our community. Living into these community agreements is a community-wide responsibility and one that we are actively pursuing.
- We are all mutual learners. We believe everyone at SAB has something to learn and something to teach. SAB students, faculty, and administrators can learn from one another. When we make mistakes, we can grow from them together.
- We take ownership of our words and actions. We are responsible for how we behave and how we make others feel. When we are hurt or we hurt someone else, we talk about it and make it right.
- We are brave, courageous, and fearless. We listen to each other and learn from each other. We ask questions when we don’t understand something or someone.
- Everyone is important and valuable. We recognize that each of us has feelings, talents and experiences that shape who we are at SAB. Each of us deserves to be here and the chance to succeed.
- Respect for one another. We respect one another by being caring, patient and kind. We create a space where all of us feel that others care about us.
- Trust matters. We trust each other not to gossip or tell stories about each other. We practice empathy and care for one another, whether we are a students, faculty, or administrators.
- Our differences make us stronger. We value and respect our differences. We are all different, but our respect for one another is the same.