"Connoisseurs of the Balanchine “Nutcracker” should notice a couple of changes that have been made this season. The most discussed has been to reduce the element of racial caricature in Chinese Tea: The male dancer now wears a modified hat and makeup, and neither points his index fingers upward or does rapid little runs. How to represent national or ethnic types within the framework of Tchaikovsky’s score? This is a challenge I hope the company will continue to consider." - Alastair Macaulay, The New York Times

join leaders from across the country WHO HAVE ALREADY SIGNED:

LEADERS IN DANCE
Victor Barbee, Associate Director, The Washington Ballet
Peter Boal, Artistic Director, Pacific Northwest Ballet
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
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
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, Interim Artistic Team Leader, New York City Ballet
Jennifer Stahl, Editor in Chief, Dance Magazine
Ellen Walker, Executive Director, Pacific Northwest 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

LEADERS IN THE ARTS
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
Christine Chen, Director of Strategic Programming, 92Y
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, Executive and Artistic Director, Carolina Performing Arts at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
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
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

It’s time that all are represented equally and with respect.
— Christopher Wheeldon, OBE, Tony Award-winning choreographer and Artistic Associate, The Royal Ballet
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
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