Since the start of MoBBallet and the active work on the issue of diversity in ballet it has been my pleasure and honor to be in the company of some truly incredible and inspiring people. In June 2015 when I was invited to take part in a Dance USA breakout session and launched MoBBallet, I never thought some of the people in that room would end up not only as supporters of MoBB, but as friends. Ellen Walker is one those people. She is the Executive Director of Pacific Northwest Ballet and she was one of the first people to approach me after the session and we began to have conversations about how Pacific Northwest could do more. The organization lead artistically by Peter Boal was already working with the Seattle Office of Arts & Culture Racial Equity Learning Cohorts, part of the Race and Social Justice Initiative (RSJI) but Walker and Boal were aware of how much there was to learn and having more honest, open conversations is a part of that, hence we worked together to craft this dialogue:
Pacific Northwest Ballet (PNB) hosts Beyond Ballet, a conversation which investigates aesthetics, diversity, equity, and the efforts to redesign arts institutions. This forum is an open study group for organizations participating in the Seattle Office of Arts & Culture Racial Equity Learning Cohorts, part of the , the City’s commitment to eliminate racial disparities and achieve racial equity in Seattle. Panelists include Peter Boal, Artistic Director of PNB; Donald Byrd, Artistic Director of Spectrum Dance Theater; Erica Edwards, former Joffery Ballet dancer, Director of Community Engagement at The Joffrey Ballet; Kiyon Gaines, former PNB soloist and PNB School faculty member; and Andrea Long-Naidu, Former principal dancer with at Dance Theatre of Harlem and CityDance Conservatory ballet instructor . The event is moderated by Theresa Ruth Howard, founder and curator of MOBB.