8 Kyle Davis in Ballet West Lew Christiensen Nutcracker Chinese 3 (2018).jpg




Karole Armitage, Artistic Director, Armitage Gone! Dance
Victor Barbee, Associate Director, The Washington Ballet
Peter Boal, Artistic Director, Pacific Northwest Ballet
Devon Carney, Artistic Director, Kansas City Ballet
Christine Chen, Executive Director, STREB Extreme Action
Angel Corella, Artistic Director, Pennsylvania Ballet
Adrian Danchig-Waring, Director, New York Choreographic Institute
Robert Curran, Artistic Director, Louisville Ballet
Doug Fullington, Audience Engagement Manager, Pacific Northwest Ballet
Kevin Irving, Artistic Director, Oregon Ballet Theatre
Arturo Jacobus, President & CEO, Atlanta Ballet
Virginia Johnson, Artistic Director, Dance Theatre of Harlem
Roy Kaiser, Artistic Director, Nevada Ballet Theatre
Julie Kent, Artistic Director, The Washington Ballet
Deborah Hess, Faculty, Canada's National Ballet School
Michael Mao, Artistic Director, Michael Mao Dance Company
Stirling Matheson, Artistic Director, Ballet Theatre of Indiana
Mark Morris, Artistic Director, Mark Morris Dance Group
Linda Murray, Curator, Jerome Robbins Dance Division, New York Public Library for the Performing Arts
Mikko Nissinen, Artistic Director, Boston Ballet
Georgina Pazcoguin, Soloist, New York City Ballet
Amy Seiwert, Artistic Director, Sacramento Ballet
Adam Sklute, Artistic Director, Ballet West
Troy Schumacher, Artistic Director, BalletCollective, Soloist, New York City Ballet
James Sofranko, Artistic Director, Grand Rapids Ballet
Jonathan Stafford, Artistic Director, New York City Ballet and the School of American Ballet
Jennifer Stahl, Editor in Chief, Dance Magazine
Nancy Umanoff, Executive Director, Mark Morris Dance Group
Ellen Walker, Executive Director, Pacific Northwest Ballet
Stanton Welch, Artistic Director, Houston Ballet
Christopher Wheeldon, OBE, Tony Award-winning choreographer and Artistic Associate, The Royal Ballet
Clifford Williams, Artist in Residence, Complexions Contemporary Ballet
Xin Ying, Principal Dancer, Martha Graham Dance Company


Aisha Ahmad-Post, Director, Ent Center for the Arts, University of Colorado, Colorado Springs
Deedee Aguilar, Group Sales Manager, New York Philharmonic
Beau Basse, Creative Director, LaBasse Project
Phil Chan, Director of Programming, IVY
Max Chang, Co-Executive Producer of the 150th Golden Spike Anniversary production of “Gold Mountain,” Spike 150 Foundation
Philip Chung, Creative Director, YOMYOMF
Elysia Dawn, Program Associate, MetLiveArts, The Metropolitan Museum of Art
Mary Eileen Fouratt, Program Officer, New Jersey State Council on the Arts
Dr. Jennifer Fisher, Professor, University of California, Irvine; Author of “Nutcracker Nation”
Lane Harwell, Program Officer, Creativity and Free Expression, the Ford Foundation
Emil Kang, Program Director, Arts & Cultural Heritage, the Mellon Foundation
Dr. Josephine Lee, Professor of English and Asian American Studies, University of Minnesota, Twin Cities
Andrea Louis, Executive Director, Asian American Arts Alliance
Kristina Newman-Scott, Director of Culture, State of Connecticut
Bill Rauch, Artistic Director, the Ronald O. Perelman Center for the Performing Arts
Ravi Rajan, President, California Institute of the Arts
Lisa Scails, Executive Director, Cultural Alliance of Western Connecticut
Li Min Tan, Owner, Cloud and Victory
Matthew Wittmann, Curator, Harvard Theatre Collection, Harvard University

Photo: Kyle Davis in Ballet West’s “The Nutcracker.” Photo by Beau Pearson courtesy of Ballet West.

I love ballet as an art form, and acknowledge that to achieve a diversity amongst our artists, audiences, donors, students, volunteers, and staff, I am committed to eliminating outdated and offensive stereotypes of Asians (Yellowface) on our stages.
It’s time that all are represented equally and with respect. 
— Christopher Wheeldon, OBE, Tony Award-winning choreographer and Artistic Associate, The Royal Ballet
I’ve spent much of my career teaching and writing about racial performance in American theater. Like blackface minstrelsy, yellowface performance unfortunately has a long history in all branches of the performing arts. But that doesn’t mean it has to have a long future. Identification and education of the problems is important—but actually DOING something is the key. Working artists, producers, choreographers, writers, directors must make the choice to break away from these tired cliches—and spend their generative energies on something wonderful and new.
— Dr. Josephine Lee, Professor of English and Asian American Studies, University of Minnesota, Twin Cities
When I arrived at Ballet West 10 years ago, I fell in love with Willam Christensen’s Nutcracker, however I never liked the “Chinese” variation. The Ballet is the oldest full production of Nutcracker in America and was choreographed in 1944 so this variation was completely outdated and offensive. While all the act II variations in Nutcracker are caricatures and based on stereotypes to varying degrees, I found the “Chinese” one insulting. 

I made several minor adjustments early on which I felt helped but I was never satisfied. About 6 years ago I went to the Christensen family and asked if I could interpolate Lew Christensen’s Chinese variation into Willam’s ballet. This was part of the Nutcracker done at SFB from the 1960’s until the late 1980’s - It was a warrior battling a dragon. The family agreed and I enlisted former BW principal and current professor of Ballet at the University of Cincinnati Mr. Jiang Qi to help me re-choreograph the dancing. 

Hopefully what we have now is a much greater celebration of Chinese culture than the mockery it used to be. I remain committed to working for improvements in this and every other aspect of ballet that is offensive.
— Adam Sklute, Artistic Director, Ballet West