“It was amazing to be around people who looked like me, who wanted the same things I wanted in the dance world,” Thompson, who is now IABD's executive director, says.
On Wednesday, the nonprofit kicks off the 2016 conference and festival in Denver, hosted by Cleo Parker Robinson Dance Ensemble. Robinson is a founding member of IABD.
“When we started it 28 years ago, we knew that black dance companies… had many of the same issues within our own regions and we began to just address that,” Robinson says “But now [the conference] is so diverse in terms of the genres, cultures and races.”
The five-day event features panels, workshops, classes and performances by major dance companies, such as New York’s Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater and Philadanco! The Philadelphia Dance Company.
For the first time, the conference will offer a ballet audition for minority women. Contracts with the likes of Houston Ballet, Chicago’s Joffrey Ballet, Pennsylvania Ballet and Colorado Ballet will be up for grabs.
“There’s a lot of talk in the arts community about race, diversity, equity and inclusion,” Thompson says. “So let’s then provide an opportunity to highlight and bring some awareness to the number of black ballerinas [out] there.”
A few conference events to check out this week:
- Wednesday: New York ensemble Abraham.In.Motion
- Saturday: International Artists Showcase
- Sunday: Ballet audition for women of color
Throughout: Workshops and classes open to the public include a session about grant writing by National Endowment for the Arts dance director Douglas Sonntag and midnight African dance classes.