The stories of Blacks in ballet are integral to the history of dance. Our mission is to create a digital platform that compiles this lesser-known history in one online location. Not only will we house "traditional" archival material, but also orally catalog the memoirs of Black ballet dancers through the production of mini-documentaries that capture not only their artistry, but their humanity as well. By creating high-quality content that is inspiring and accessible, MoBBallet seeks to promote larger discussions within the dance community, as well as provide a platform and network for emerging Black dancers. Our intention is to tell the stories of Blacks in Ballet dancers internationally. We are only as strong as our stories, therefore they must only only be told and preserved.
How can you help?
Theresa Ruth Howard
Curator/ Writer/ Advocate/ Diversity Strategist/ Consultant
As a dancer Theresa Ruth Howard began her professional career at the age of twelve with the Philadelphia Civic Ballet Company. Shortly after high school she joined the Dance Theatre of Harlem where she had the opportunity to travel extensively throughout the United States, Europe and Africa. She began working with choreographer Donald Byrd as a soloist in his staging of New York City Opera's Carmina Burana, after which he invited her to work with his company Donald Byrd/The Group as a guest artist. She appeared with The Group in Byrd’s critically acclaimed Harlem Nutcracker, as well as The Beast a controversial piece about domestic violence. In 2004 she became a founding member of Armitage Gone! Dance, and was invited to be a guest artist with Complexions Contemporary Ballet’s 10 th anniversary season.
As a dance educator Ms. Howard has been a member of The Ailey School’s Ballet faculty for over 18 years, in addition to being a faculty member at the Joffrey Ballet School
She has extended this edict to her work as a advocate and strategist for diversity in ballet and the arts. It is her mission to change the way we have conversations about diversity and equity by creating a safe space of learning, evoking empathy and encouraging participates to see, hear and acknowledge the humanity in one another, something that often gets lost in the frustration, anger, guilt and fear that these difficult conversations unearth. Her approach has quickly made her a sought after voice in the field.
In February 11th, 2017 she was invited as a keynote speaker at Dutch National Ballet’s Positioning Ballet conference in Amsterdam, and now works with the company in their efforts towards diversity. Pacific Northwest Ballet invited Ms.Howard to curate and facilitate a Townhall gathering entitled Beyond Ballet, a conversation investigating aesthetics, diversity, equity, and the efforts to redesign arts institutions.
Ms. Howard as become a leader in the field of diversity and equity in the arts and a sought after subject matter expert in the development of strategies for organizational diversification. She has been called on by Dance USA, IABD, Dutch National Ballet, Pacific Northwest Ballet, San Fransico Ballet, Pennsylvania Ballet and Opera America others to speak, consult and council on the matter. Her background as an African American professional ballet dancer, educator, journalism and advocate, married with her personal knowledge of the African American perspective, has made her voice invaluable to ballet and arts organizations who strive to create authentic sustainable change while maintaining what is “deemed” the standard of their form..
Ms. Howard is available for lectures, workshops, teaching and consulting for bookings contact Info@mobballet.org
Joan Myers Brown
Theresa Ruth Howard
Cover image by Melissa Sweazy
Courtesy of Collage Dance Collective.
- Joan Myers Brown, Dance Pioneer, Founder of Philadelphia Dance Company, Philadelphia PA
- Melanie Person, former member of Dance Theatre of Harlem, current Co-Director of the Ailey School Ailey/Fordham BFA, New York, NY
- Judith Jamison, Artistic Director Emerita of The Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, New York, NY
- Amy Fitterer, Executive Director, Dance/USA
- Donald Byrd, Choreographer and Artistic Director, Spectrum Dance Theater, Seattle, WA