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ABT News

September 13, 2013

ABT Launches Project Plie:
A Comprehensive Initative to Increase Racial and Ethnic Representation in Ballet

Partnership with Boys & Girls Clubs of America Announced

Payless ShoeSource® to Serve as a Leading Corporate Sponsor of Project Plié

American Ballet Theatre (ABT) has announced the formation of Project Plié, a comprehensive initiative to increase racial and ethnic representation in ballet and to diversify America’s ballet companies. Project Plié seeks to combine training and support of ballet students and dance teachers from communities previously underrepresented in American ballet companies with the creation of a nationwide partner network of professional ballet companies who are committed to diversity. In addition, Project Plié will include a new partnership with Boys & Girls Clubs of America to introduce participants to ballet and identify children for future training.

Payless ShoeSource® is a Leading Corporate Sponsor of Project Plié.

“In launching Project Plié, American Ballet Theatre aims to take an important step toward helping the classical ballet profession better reflect the racial and ethnic diversity of our country’s population,” said Rachel S. Moore, CEO of American Ballet Theatre. “This initiative can assist ballet students from diverse backgrounds in reaching their full potential by providing them with the support and active engagement of teachers, mentors and current professional dancers. We sincerely believe that diversifying the art form at its training level will strengthen and broaden the pipeline of future artists and help ensure ballet’s continued relevance and excellence in the 21st century.”

To achieve its goals, Project Plié will take a multi-pronged approach to increasing diversity. These efforts include:

  1. Selection of scholarship recipients for dance training;
  2. Recruitment of dance instructors to receive certification in ABT’s National Training Curriculum;
  3. Establishment of a formal Project Plié partner network with professional ballet companies and ABT Certified Teachers across the U.S. to collectively work toward the goal of diversification;
  4. Establishment of a new partnership with Boys & Girls Clubs of America to introduce ballet in member clubs, identify talent and support future training;
  5. Broadening of ABT’s current internship program to support emerging arts administrators of color;
  6. Formation of a Project Plié Advisory Committee consisting of experts in the fields of education, culture and dance to advocate for and raise awareness of Project Plié‘s goals and mission.


Beginning Fall 2013, Project Plié will award the following annual scholarships to promising students, aged 9-18:

  • 15 Full Scholarships to attend the Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis School at American Ballet Theatre Children’s and Pre-Professional Divisions
  • 15 Full Scholarships to attend ABT’s Summer Intensive Programs, five of which will include housing stipends
  • 10 Full Scholarships to ABT’s Young Dancer Summer Workshop in New York City, a two-week program for young dancers, aged 9-12

Scholarship recipients will be identified through auditions conducted throughout the United States and nominations made by ABT Certified Teachers during the Company’s 25-city Summer Intensive audition tour and at master classes held in all five boroughs of New York City. Project Plié scholarship recipients will be eligible to receive comprehensive training in classical dance; financial assistance for uniforms, shoes and travel; and access to academic tutoring, health assessments, career guidance and mentoring from ABT’s dancers and teaching staff.

Teacher Training

Project Plié will launch a national recruitment initiative to identify, train and support ballet teachers who have demonstrated service to underrepresented areas across the country. Recruitment personnel from a network of over 1,100 ABT Certified Teachers will look to attend regional and national competitions and conduct master classes in key areas around the United States. This national recruitment effort will seek to provide five teachers with scholarships to attend ABT’s National Training Curriculum (NTC) teacher training courses. ABT’s NTC Director will work with these teachers to creatively and collaboratively address barriers to young dancers’ participation in their communities.

Project Plié Partner Companies

To increase the dialogue about diversifying America’s ballet companies, American Ballet Theatre has established partnerships with professional companies around the U.S. who have embraced the goal of diversity. Project Plié partner companies include current partners Ballet San Jose and Orlando Ballet, as well as Ballet Austin, Cincinnati Ballet, Oklahoma City Ballet, Ballet Memphis and Richmond Ballet.

Project Plié partner companies will collaborate on the identification and development of effective strategies for working with communities of color and create a mentoring network for professional dancers and teachers of color to share information on professional opportunities.

Partnership with Boys & Girls Clubs of America

Project Plié, in partnership with Boys & Girls Clubs of America, will introduce ballet to a broad array of children by conducting educational and activity-based master classes in member clubs across the United States. These classes, conducted by ABT’s educational staff, will serve to identify gifted children and connect them with ABT Certified Project Plié partner teachers and schools in their community.

Gifted students who successfully participate and complete one year of training will be eligible for a full scholarship to ABT’s two-week Young Dancer Summer Workshop in New York.

Arts Administration Program

To further the aim of Project Plié, American Ballet Theatre will extend the reach of its college internship program in the fields of arts education and arts administration with the goal of recruiting a more diverse pool of internship applicants. These efforts will seek to establish relationships with college career centers in the U.S. and to provide financial assistance to students to participate in ABT’s Internship Program, as well as career guidance and support. For more information on applying to ABT’s Internship Program, please contact

Project Plié Advisory Committee

American Ballet Theatre has formed an advisory committee of experts in the fields of education, culture and dance to advocate for and raise awareness around Project Plié. Advisors will offer support and mentoring to ABT and Project Plié partners on issues of access, barriers to participation and the need to diversify the ballet field. Project Plié advisors include Virginia Johnson, Artistic Director, Dance Theatre of Harlem; Nigel Lythgoe, Executive Producer, So You Think You Can Dance; Jennifer Homans, author and dance historian; Aaron Dworkin, Founder and President, the Sphinx Organization; Yvette Campbell, President and CEO, Harlem School of the Arts; Misty Copeland, Soloist, American Ballet Theatre; Frank Sanchez, Vice President, Sports and Entertainment, Boys & Girls Clubs of America; Susan Fales-Hill, author; and Gilda Squire, President, Gilda Squire Media Relations.

For more information on Project Plié, its activities and offerings, please visit

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