Diversity & Inclusion
The School of American Ballet (SAB) was founded in 1934 as an integral part of George Balanchine and Lincoln Kirstein’s proposal for the creation of an American ballet company. Critical to this plan was the establishment of a school, where students would be trained in the artistic innovations of what was anticipated to become an American dance tradition, and would ultimately lead to the creation of one of the world’s leading dance companies: New York City Ballet.
Today, the School of American Ballet continues its work toward an American dance tradition fully reflective of the society it aims to represent. As an undeniably intrinsic, important, and visible aspect of American life, SAB considers the artistic representation of cultural and racial diversity as essential, and therefore regards an official, organization-wide focus on cultivating such diversity as but a natural extension of its original mission: to train exceptional dancers in the art of the American ballet.
Known as a premier training academy whose graduates are poised to join and ultimately head dance organizations worldwide, SAB believes that it must be proactive in assuring 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 is cognizant of the scope of its influence in ballet, and therefore sees itself as responsible for setting a tone of inclusivity and access within its practices, with the ultimate goal of affecting the racial and ethnic composition of professional stages worldwide.
The School of American Ballet’s current Diversity Initiative, officially launched in 2012, but truly the continuation of more than two decades of community-focused outreach and a long-standing tradition of support for talented dancers of all backgrounds, features two divisions : Recruiting and Outreach, and Student Life.
Recruiting and Outreach
The School of American Ballet’s Recruiting and Outreach is committed to expanding access to the School for students from groups traditionally underrepresented in ballet. This is achieved through:
- Expanding awareness of and access to SAB auditions through Community Auditions (in Bronx, Harlem, Queens, Brooklyn and Chinatown locations), lecture demonstrations for young dancers, and nationwide targeted outreach.
- Increasing overall organization-wide fundraising and scholarship capacity designed to support the Initiative’s long term development, including almost $500,000 of financial aid awarded to self-reporting students of color for the 2014-2015 Winter Term and 2014 Summer Course.
- Building partnerships with dance institutions around the country and investigating potential strategies for national development.
- Establishing an alumni advisory committee and alumni networks to build awareness of SAB’s efforts and drive improvements in its approach to diversity in ballet.
- Hiring a full-time Diversity Program Manager to act as the lead on Diversity Initiative strategy.
The School of American Ballet’s Student Life Department oversees the well-being of students beyond their ballet training. The Department believes that awareness and inclusion of diversity, as defined by differences in race, ethnicity, color, culture, religion, gender, sexual orientation, national or ethnic origin, socioeconomic status, language, geographical area, and ideologies and beliefs, is an essential part of the SAB community, and integral to becoming a well-rounded dancer and citizen. As such, the Student Life Department is committed to creating a safe and welcoming environment for all of students. Initiatives in the Student Life Department include:
- Faculty, staff, and student diversity training.
- Student focus groups on diversity.
- Mentorship networks for current students and alumni.
- Cultural programming opportunities.
- Expansion of the diversity component of residence hall educational and cultural programming.
The School of American Ballet is unique in its ability to house many of its Winter Term Intermediate and Advanced students on campus. The Student Life Department is charged with cultivating a supportive residential community, and diversity, both in ballet and the greater community, is a central component of its programs. The School sees immense value in exposure to the topics of diversity that challenge the world today, and believes such acknowledgement supports the personal and professional growth of its students.
NOTICE OF NON-DISCRIMINATION POLICY
The School of American Ballet has a nondiscrimination policy with respect to all the rights, privileges, programs and activities generally accorded or made available to students at the School. It does not discriminate on the basis of sex, race, color, sexual orientation, national origin or any other protected characteristic in administration of its education policies, admissions policies, scholarship programs or any other school-administered programs.