If a million hands can build a wall, a million hands can break it down…

I can not express every emotion that I am feeling at the moment.  There are so many thoughts that are running through my head, that it is hard to articulate everything all at once.  I just want to say a few things and touch on what is happening in today’s world… The first of which, I want to point out that social media is changing the landscape of news reporting… Which is allowing us to see a greater picture of what is happening in the world- Violence has never been new, corruption is nothing new, terrorism is nothing new, and revolution is not a new concept. Scrolling through my Facebook feed, I have seen numerous posts, blogs have been posting tons of social commentary, mine is no different… Even though I said I would never talk about world politics on my blog… I have decided that it is time to truly express how I feel about world events… 

But I want to try to articulate what has been weighing me down…

The first is that of change… I just posted about change in ballet, which is trivial in the greater picture of world politics… But yet, it still resonates with me and how it affects ballet… All lives matter… I am not here trying to point the finger at corruption, but the fact that when Artistic Directors deny colored dancers the chance to dance… It is like pulling the trigger on a child’s dream… When a studio won’t bend the tuition rate because a student can’t afford ballet tuition, it also is pulling the trigger on a child’s dream.  When a choreographer is denied the chance to create work due to gender or is paid unfairly- you are making it that much harder for the American dream to thrive…

Privilege. To dance ballet or be a part of ballet is a privilege… It comes with the responsibility of an oral tradition, and a living art form being passed down to one generation to the next. Part of this privilege has come with race, or socioeconomic status, or even gender… It is this idea that has caused ballet to become stagnate. It is this reason why America is struggling to find a united voice or identity. In a country that was founded by both poor and rich, by a country that was founded on religious freedom, in a country that’s claim is now the greatest nation in the world… We as a people forgotten what it is to be human… How is this affecting ballet?  A generation has been bred into privilege, the privilege of knowledge, technology, and passion… It is this idea that is causing ballet dancers to have a voice, a strong voice, and for the first time in a long time, ballet dancers are demanding more… More out of themselves, more out of their company’s repertory and more out of their life. This also has to do with the pay scale of ballet… It is no secret that contracts and money are hush-hush in ballet… But the reality is… like in my previous post… Ballet Companies should be a lot smarter with their money to pay back their dancers and give the opportunities to others…

Passion; an emotion as artists we are all tied to. It is the greatest gift we have as artists to fuel who we are as individuals and our individual goals… Passion is something that is all consuming, but sometimes we forget to be productive outside of the ballet world… The desire for change has to happen one by one… It isn’t enough to just post about it… Leaders need to leave their offices and take to the streets… Individuals have to come together and take a stand against what is wrong in the world… Violence is never the answer, but we are becoming a more volatile and sophisticated society… So, it leaves me wondering what the next steps are to create a change… Not just in the world today, but change in the ballet world… I know I am just writing, but I do believe that I am trying to create a change in the dialogue of ballet… It is a small contribution, but I believe it is towards the change ballet needs.

Racism. I don’t know if it is Donald Trump inspiring racism and hate to become more bold… But recently I was in the parking lot of a grocery store and a guy in a truck yelled at me and called me a “zipperhead” and a “fag”…. I was at the barbers last week and someone called someone else a faggot…and the barbers collectively kicked the guy out without finishing his hair…. (If you saw my barbers you would understand how proud I was… They are all pretty masculine latinos, tatted up, and homie status… Love them to pieces! Even if they are crazy.) Last week a friend was jumped for being gay. This is the world we live in, and it scares me… We can not hide in the theaters, we can not hide in the ballet studio, we can not watch the world go by but still demand change. It is a scary thing to stand up for what is right, but it standing up for change has never been easy. It wasn’t that long ago that Martin Luther King stood up for equality, and it wasn’t that long ago women didn’t have the same legal rights as men… And it wasn’t that long ago gays did not have the same legal rights… As a result of these changes hate became suppressed, it happened behind closed doors, and it filtered into the workplace, the world of arts, and more… It has been bottled up, unspoken… But it has always been there… Racism has always been there, but because of social media, we are seeing the result of racism, stereotyping and sexism.

So you want change? You want change for the world? You want change for ballet? You want change for your career, your child’s future? You have to do something about it… You can not just idly sit by and hope for something better. We as individuals have the right to be angry, hurt, and demand your life’s/work/artistry’s value… Dancers of colors need to have the chance to dance…. New talent, new names, new teachers, new choreographers of all genders and race deserve the chance to prove themselves… Once again, this goes back to the idea of the ballet world, or the American world becoming monopolized by power players…

Anger. Sadness. For me, these two are tied together… I don’t know if I am sad because of all these world events (both domestic and foreign) and that has caused my anger… Or I see these events and it angers me because the place they are coming from and as a result I am sad. Normally, when I am feeling down, I would go take a ballet class, and for an hour and a half, I would forget about what is happening in the world… But that is not enough anymore… It has caused me want, demand change in ballet at a much faster rate.

This isn’t time for political correctness- it is time to demand change… And if you don’t want to get into politics… Then it is time to demand change for ballet. If ballet doesn’t change now, if we do not start changing the landscape of ballet now… Then I am afraid that there will be no hope for future generations, and that we will be pulling the trigger on a million dreams… It is time to bring ballet to developing countries, not just schools… But companies so they have a chance to dance in their home countries… It is time to start giving the opportunities to everyone… It really is time to demand change in ballet… And if the Artistic Directors of the world don’t want to change- then it is truly time for them to go… Like yesterday… And if the board of a ballet company won’t bend to protect profits to keep Artistic Directors happy and their pockets filled… Well, it is time for change… There is a lot of new money out there in today’s economy, and maybe it is time for ballet not to rely on old money, old traditions, and old social constructs.

This post is not enough— even for me.

3 Replies to “If a million hands can build a wall, a million hands can break it down…”

  1. Iam teaching Ballet in one of what you call developing countries, India, and I see lot of interested people but almost nobody from the western world wants to come and stay to create a company they only come for a short time and run away…..too hard?


  2. A few thoughts. We are not rich, and that has been my kids’ biggest stumbling block as ballet dancers. We can’t afford privates, pilates, and gym membership. We struggle to pay for tuition, shoes, and transportation. My white daughter has had it the worst even though she is the best dancer of our kids because white girls are a dime a dozen. Our white son has it a little better because boys get scholarships partly for having the right anatomy. We would pay his sister’s tuition with the money saved on him. We also have a boy and girl who are considered minority children. Our son has it best because he is a boy and a minority. We pay our daughter’s tuition with the money saved due to his scholarship. Our younger daughter loves ballet, Is a fine dancer for her age, and has perfect feet for it but also has hips and thighs proper for her ethnicity. I see her being held back for this. I have encouraged her towards other types of dance but she doesn’t like them. She loves ballet! Why should she be treated this way. I’m not talking about her becoming a professional dancer but just being a student. I doubt she will want to be a professional dancer.


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