Thank you all for another month at WTF. Without you, none of this would exist.
This month, we are so excited to celebrate diversity in the dance community. As a woman of color, I feel both joy and anxiety writing this letter to you all.
Diversity can apply to so many different facets of life. It can describe the demographics of a population in a single room or city, or it can describe the traits and abilities of a single person. It can refer to a spectrum of subcategories – ranging from ethnicity to body-type to gender – or any combination among the many.
Diversity is seen as a commodity, particularly for universities and workplaces. To be called a diverse person is to be given a compliment in most cases. It means you’re flexible, adaptable – and therefore, an asset in many different environments. There was a time in our world, when exclusivity and sameness were valued over diversity. Although we still may still feel underrepresented in our respective populations, I’m happy to live in a time where differences are no longer actively hidden.
But for the sake of our magazine and our sport, we’re talking about the diversity of the dance world and of a competition floor.
Historically, you could say dance is also known for uniformity. Ballet companies have their dancers wear identical costumes and wigs. Specific types of dancers are often chosen in order to achieve cohesive pictures and movements. Some of the most iconic figures in dance history believed that certain body types were better equipped to execute movements with the proper technique. Ballet isn’t ballroom, I know. But as dancers we are not only constantly working to achieve a certain technical proficiency but we must also remain conscious of the way we present ourselves. This is in order to ensure that we are seen at all. As students of dance, we are taught that there is an ideal – that looks do matter. A lot of the time, this makes us question if our differences should be order to achieve our goals.
It hurts me to say, as a teammate and as a person of color, that I’ve had one too many conversations with people who feel underrepresented in our community. Whether it be the fact that none of your fellow competitors look like you or you’re the only person competing in a non-traditional gender role, it’s hard to feel drastically different, to feel like there’s no one in your demographic – to feel alone.
This is why it is so important to celebrate diversity. There is no quick fix to this reality. We can’t change demographics overnight. But we can remind our fellow dancers that we not only accept their differences in weight, skin color, gender identity, but that we embrace them. Diversity is so important to all communities because it surrounds us with new perspectives. It makes a hobby or extracurricular into a learning and loving experience because it encourages to exercise our empathy and grow alongside our people.
Some parting words for you all as we kick off this month of celebration:
You are so important. You all bring something to the table that nobody else will ever have. You are essential, and this community needs you – all of you. Just as you are.
Welcome. I am so happy to have you here.
– Sarah Fahey, Production Manager