Why Race Will Always Matter in Ballet…

If you are going to be racist, keep it to yourself. If you are going to be nasty and you are going to come for me, my friends, or my dancers… watch your face. I will not stand by and let you just crap all over people, especially kids… Because I make the concious choice to illustrate dancers to reflect people in my life, or what I want out of ballet doesn’t give you the right to place your racist mom opinion on social media.

Race in Ballet
This week, I released two major feats for me: The Guide to Pas De Deux and The Nutcracker: Party Scene.
The Guide to Pas De Deux Preview
As I illustrated both of these, I made a point to make sure that I represented dancers of color. What I didn’t expect is some of the nasty backlash that happened via email, social media and blog comments. Luckily, all comments have to be approved, because some of the comments were just nasty. This month I have been trying so hard to be classy and rise above some of the racial issues in dance right now… And then… some mom from Texas decided to write me on why she wouldn’t be purchasing a Clara/Marie/Masha product:

“She really doesn’t represent the character and isn’t relatable to most ballerinas out there.”

my first nutcracker

I about lost my sh!t, and truthfully, I probably responded way too fast and will probably regret it later… I probably won’t. So, why is it so hard to picture Clara to be a young girl with black hair and tan skin? Ironically… one of my nuggets is Clara (Asian), a school in Los Angeles just announced their cast… all ethnic Masha’s. Another prestigious school just announced their claras and of the four, two are Asian. I am now on the search for images of professional companies with ethnic Claras… and, I wasn’t surprised that I didn’t find any related to a professional company… This was a follow up blow to a colleague telling me about her Asian student get made fun of for her “Flat chinese face”.

cover art 1

Then another mom wrote me asking me, “If it was a conscious choice of making Clara’s Family Asian and the maid white?” And saying that if it was a conscious choice she was disappointed in me and my brand, and went on and on about how she constantly feels punished for being white and this was just a reminder. Don’t get me wrong, there is absolutely nothing wrong with being white and I am not punishing you. Clearly, Ballerina Doll and Columbine Doll could be white girls, and one of my party girls is white, and a party Dad is a redhead. But, I also included dancers of different ethnic backgrounds as guests as well. And who is to say that Clara’s family is Asian? Because they have closed eyes and black hair?

A fun fact about illustrating this year’s Nutcracker… I wanted to illustrate enough to compile into a small book for my nieces (who are Asian and White) so they could see dancers who looked like them and their friends. Maybe next year I will do Clara as a redhead or even with purple hair to avoid this. But, this isn’t the bigger picture… The bigger picture was that there were no books portraying an ethnically diverse cast of Nutcracker and I was filling the void.

Then, I was told that it was great that I made all of these ethnic dancers in the pas de deux book, but was told, “You should have made the ethnic dancers more musclar.” WTF. Precious Adams (ENB), Amanda Morgan (PNB), Courtney Lavine (ABT)… Nardia Boodoo & Ashley Murphy (Washington Ballet)…  The women of DTH… I could go on and on about the comparison of body types and then it would get petty…

This lead me to be angry, beyond angry that I had to take a break from social media and the computer, but then just became depressed. That this is the world we live in. It made me question if that is the reason why my Nutcracker Book from last year didn’t go print… Is it because they were all ethnic? Unfortunately, the majority of people who support ballet financially are white, and it seems that their opinions have such a strong weight it dictates careers. Well, we already knew that. Part of me is like I need a beacon of light. With everything that has happened over the past two months… I am like, dear baby Jesus… I need a break, peace, and happiness… Please…

team fritz shirt
Anyways… don’t forget to join Team Fritz! (click the pic or here to buy) Don’t forget the shirts are customizable on Redbubble!

Also don’t fret… Battle Scene and ACT II are coming!
Nightgown Clara
Mouse King
Soldiers & Rats
Nutcracker Prince
Snow King and Queen
Sugarplum & Cavalier