My silence after witnessing yet another killing of a black man at the hands of white policemen and the ensuing social unrest, is weighing heavily on me. These atrocities and ongoing injustices against people of color must not continue. Systemic racism is a deeply ingrained social disease in our country that must be eradicated. People of color must be given equal access to economic opportunity, education, and healthcare in order to root out the covert discrimination they have suffered for generations.
As a private citizen, as an artist, and as the artistic director of a predominantly white dance company, I know I can do more to help affect the necessary change.
Rioult Dance NY with its newly opened dance center in Queens, has an opportunity in the future to do its part to narrow the divide, by giving more access and opportunity in our field of dance to the black community, and by being a safe and welcoming place for creativity and growth.
It will not happen in one day. But one step at a time, we can affect change. And we commit to doing so. We are starting the tough but necessary discussion within the organization to put together a plan of actionable items that will make the Company and the Dance Center more diverse and inclusive:
Conduct anti-bias training for the dance company and the staff.
Facilitate access to dance classes to the black underserve children community.
Facilitate access to studio space and performance opportunities to choreographers of color.
Encourage the registration of dancers of color in dance classes and workshops, through scholarship programs.
Have the dance company engage with the black and brown communities and create partnerships.
These are some of the most practical items we are looking at and can commit to put in place as soon as we reopen. The dialogue must take place and bare fruits.
In solidarity and hope,
Rioult Dance NY