Misty Copeland made headlines this past summer as the first African-American, female Principal Dancer to perform with New York City’s American Ballet Theatre. While dance flourishes in practically every culture around the globe, ballet has long been perceived as a bastion of tiny, Caucasian ballerinas and their equally European male partners. It’s not that others couldn’t do it, it’s simply that it never crossed their minds to try, due to a lack of role models.
That’s why NYC parents are particularly lucky in that their diverse city offers a diversity of dance companies – and a diversity of dancers (both in terms of ethnicity and body type).
In just November 2015 alone, you can see:
* Ballet Hispanico at the legendary Apollo Theater, performing to Brazilian samba rhythms November 20 and 21 at 8 pm. As a bonus, on Saturday, November 21 at 2 pm, they’ll be presenting their special Family Program, which devotes 90 fast-paced minutes to a tour of multiple Latin American dances, followed by a Q&A with the performers. Buy tickets, here.
* Dance Cuba’s Cuba Vibra offers another family-friendly take on Hispanic music and dance at the New Victory Theater through Sunday, November 29. A hybrid highlight is a number that begins as a flamenco then, in a jaw-dropping twist, sees the dancers pop onto their toes, ballet-style, to continue. Buy tickets, here.
* Complexions Contemporary Ballet, also through November 29, at the Joyce Theater. You don’t get much more contemporary than an athletic, multi-racial cast performing a selection of original work, including their show-stopping act-closer to the music of Metallica! (Yes, it’s ballet! To Metallica!) Buy tickets, here.
Another factor that may keep diverse families away from the dance scene is cost. Fortunately, tickets to Complexions start as low as $10, while Cuba Vibra’s tickets can be had for $15 a person, as can the Ballet Hispanico ones for Saturday’s family program.
But what if your child becomes inspired and wants to try dance for themselves? What about that cost?
Once again, NYC parents are in luck. Ballet Hispanico offers scholarships to qualifying young dancers (both need-based and merit), as well as a completely tuition-free Boys Workshop.
Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater (whose NY season is in December, which is why they’re not mentioned above) also has scholarships, which are administered by audition. Dance Theater of Harlem (their NYC season is in April) has financial assistance for dancers as young as 3 in their Tendu program, as does the Harlem School for the Arts, which is wholly needs-based.
After all, the best way to diversify dance is to make sure that prospective students have role models to emulate – and the financial means to pursue their dreams.