Black History Month Resources to Explore
In honor of Black History Month, we’ve compiled a list of various resources to not only educate ourselves but also to help promote and celebrate Black voices in the ballet community.
Events and Opportunities in Washington, D.C.:
- Alvin Ailey at The Kennedy Center, Feb. 7-12, 2023
- Black History Month events at the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History & Culture
- I Dream a World: Selections from Brian Lanker’s Portraits of Remarkable Black Women at the Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery, Feb 10, 2023 – Sept 10, 2023.
- Take a Leap 2023: Celebrating Black History Month through Dance at The Gordon Center
- Artist Talk: ‘The Radical Voice of Blackness Speaks of Resistance and Joy’ at the Banneker-Douglass Museum, Feb 18, 2023 from 1-3pm
- Wild Seeds of the Soufside’ opening at Phillips at THEARC, opening reception, Feb 24, 2023 from 5-9pm
Guide to the best Black History Month events around Washington – Washington Post, 2023
Additional events will be added as they become available.
People to Know:
One of the first Black principal dancers of a major company (Houston Ballet in 1990). A pair of her pointe shoes can be found at the National Museum of African American History and Culture.
“…promoted to principal dancer, making her the first African American woman to ever be promoted to the position in the company’s 75-year history.”
Forbes 30 Under 30. Featured in “First Position”. Second Soloist at Boston Ballet.
Created Dunham Technique.
Trailblazing Black American ballerina. Founder of Pointe Magazine. Founding member of Dance Theatre of Harlem and serves as its artistic director. TWSB Alum!
First Black dancer in the NYC Ballet (1956). Founder of Dance Theatre of Harlem
First Black principal dancer with ABT. Co-founder of Complexions Contemporary Ballet.
In 1955, she was “the first African American woman to receive a contract to dance full time with a major ballet company, the Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo of New York City.”
Creator of the Urban Nutcracker. Founded City Ballet of Boston.
Organizations To Know/Follow:
- Ballethnic Dance Company
- Collage Dance Collective
- Complexions Contemporary Ballet
- Dallas Black Dance Theatre
- National Black Theatre
- National Black Arts Move/Dance Program
- Paula Brown Performing Arts Center
- The Black Ballet Celeb Taking on Racism in Dance
- Claudia Monja Is Fearlessly Making Her Mark at Nashville Ballet
- Dancing in the Wings by Debbie Allen
- Dancing While Black: 8 Pros on How Ballet Can Work Toward Racial Equity
- Taking Flight: From War Orphan to Star Ballerina By Michaela DePrince with Elaine DePrince
- The Washington Ballet’s Ashley Murphy-Wilson Writes a Letter to Her Teenage Self
- The Wind at My Back: Resilience, Grace, and Other Gifts from My Mentor, Raven Wilkinson by Misty Copeland with Susan Fales-Hill
Documentaries & Shows to Watch:
- PBS KIDS Talk Race and Racism: A heart-warming, authentic, and age-appropriate conversation with children on race hosted by Amanda Gorman featuring our SE Campus, Level 1B student, Raelynn Bernard (along with father Rahsaan Bernard, President of Building Bridges Across the River/THEARC).
- A Ballerina’s Tale – Documentary on Misty Copeland (available on Prime Video)
- BLACK BALLERINA: Tells the story of several black women from different generations who fell in love with ballet while confronting racism, exclusion, and unequal opportunity.
- Arthur Mitchell: A Day of Reflection
- Ballet Shoes Made For Brown-Skinned Ballerinas
- Brown Ballerinas: Inside the Dance Theatre of Harlem
- A choreographer’s Brief But Spectacular take on life and movement
- Reframing the Narrative: Blacks in Ballet | A Kennedy Center Digital Stage Original
- Featuring TWB Company Dancers Ashley Murphy-Wilson and Gian Carlo Perez
Performances to Watch:
- NY City Center’s Honoring Black History Month Series: Kyle Abraham’s piece, to be seen, featuring ABT principal Calvin Royal III.
- Conversation with Monica Stephenson: Columbia Community Arts Collective | Facebook
- Open Space: an Artist Connectivity Series – The International Association of Blacks in Dance
- IADMS Nine Part Webinar Series on Mental Health and Covid Series
Black Dancewear Companies:
- Association for the Study of African American Life and History – Black History Themes
- The Constellation Project: Mapping the Dark Stars of Ballet. Presented by MoBBallet