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Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion at ABT


Representation and Inclusion Sustain Excellence

ABT’s continued excellence and maintenance of its world class stature depend upon the inclusion of diverse individuals and viewpoints in all that we do. ABT RISE articulates American Ballet Theatre’s belief that Representation and Inclusion will Sustain our Excellence.

ABT RISE is built upon the efforts of the generous and dedicated champions who did groundbreaking work to launch Project Plié in 2013, which was ABT’s industry-leading initiative to advance diversity in the training pipeline for ballet students, teachers, and administrative interns. ABT RISE consists of a series of programs, initiatives, and activities embedded across all aspects of America’s National Ballet Company® – in our education programs, our artistic and administrative endeavors, and in the fabric of ABT’s corporate culture. ABT RISE supports and assures inclusivity in all that we do.

ABT’s Mission, Vision, and Values

Mission To create, to present, to preserve and to extend the great repertoire of classical dancing, through exciting performances and educational programming of the highest quality, presented to the widest possible audience.
Vision As America’s National Ballet Company®️ our vision is to engage and inspire communities through the diversity, dynamism and power of world class dance.
Values 1. Excellence
2. Authenticity
3. Inclusion
4. Innovation
DEI Pledge

We are American Ballet Theatre. We believe that Representation and Inclusion Sustain Excellence “ABT RISE.” For the last 80 years, ABT has delivered the beauty and art of dance to stages all over the country and the world. As we reflect upon our history, we recommit to addressing issues of diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) within our organization and through our programming. We commit to investing in DEI across all aspects of our institution, and we will work collaboratively to develop policies and practices that eliminate marginalization. We strongly believe in fostering, preserving, and advancing a culture of equity in order to ensure an inclusive atmosphere both onstage and behind the scenes.

Further, ABT condemns racism and discrimination. We are committed to building and promoting an antiracist and anti-discriminatory community through active introspection and self-awareness. We are actively engaged in becoming a more equitable institution by continuing to create consistent opportunities for open and safe discussions amongst our colleagues and with the guidance of experts, by facilitating ongoing anti-discrimination and antiracist training, and by using our art form to amplify marginalized voices. In doing so, we will promote awareness, acceptance and understanding within our organization and in the communities we serve.

This work will strengthen our ability to fulfill the essence of our vision as America’s National Ballet Company®: to engage and inspire communities through the diversity, dynamism and power of world class dance.

ABT RISE Advisory Council

The ABT RISE Advisory Council is a newly established group of trustee and non-trustee advisors, who will help to expand, re-imagine, and propel ABT’s commitment to DEI. As a collective, Advisory Council members will serve as guides and ambassadors for our ongoing efforts to improve, to learn, and to lead.

  • Alma Derricks, Co-Chair
  • Sharareh Siadat, Co-Chair
  • Bridget Alsdorf
  • Sarah Arison
  • Andrew F. Barth
  • Carrie Gaiser Casey
  • Misty Copeland
  • Bryce Coughlin
  • Aimee M. Cox
  • Joselli Deans
  • Susan Fales-Hill
  • Tiffany Hall
  • Angela Ho
  • Gary Holland
  • Sheila C. Johnson
  • Shelly London
  • Alissa Hsu Lynch
  • Odell Mays
  • Kara Moore
  • Tangie Murray
  • Sharon Patrick
  • Tracey Patterson
  • Milagros Phillips
  • David Rabkin
  • Kimberly Ayers Shariff
  • Michelle Silverthorn
  • Denise Littlefield Sobel
  • Bonita Stewart
  • Allison Wright
  • Douglas C. Wurth


ABT RISE Creative aims to highlight and elevate the talents and perspectives of BIPOC, women, and other diverse choreographers and creative team members through commissions and collaborations for the main Company and ABT Studio Company.

Photo: Rosalie O'Connor.

ABT Women's Movement

The ABT Women’s Movement is an ongoing initiative to support the creation, exploration and staging of new works by female choreographers for American Ballet Theatre and ABT Studio Company.

Learn More

Photo: JJ Geiger.

ABT Incubator

ABT Incubator is the Company’s choreographic workshop for inspiring the creation of new work, open to ABT dancers and freelance choreographers.  By giving creators time and resources, the program acts as a focused lab to inspire new choreographic voices.

Learn More


Photo: Dennis Walters.
Photo: Dennis Walters.

ABT RISE Workshops

ABT RISE Workshops are a series of complimentary dance classes offered to students across the United States. These workshops align with ABT’s mission to bring classical dance to the widest possible audience by supporting students of all abilities and skill levels in their quest to engage in the performing arts.

Workshops are led by ABT Company dancers, ABT Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis School faculty, ABT Teaching Artists, and guest artists certified in ABT’s National Training Curriculum.

ABT RISE Workshops aim to provide access to training for students from populations that have historically been underrepresented in classical ballet.

ABT RISE Workshops have concluded for the 2023-2024 academic school year. Please check back in September 2024 for new workshop dates.

ABT RISE Weekend Workshops

ABT has offered its ABT RISE Weekend Workshops to dancers across the United States. This exciting program for 2nd through 5th grade dancers of all abilities, pairs ABT Company dancers with ABT faculty and teaching artists to offer a series of complimentary classes and workshops.  ABT RISE Weekend Workshops aim to capture the excitement and joy of classical ballet, while educating young dancers about the path one takes to become a professional dancer.

Students begin each day with ballet class, followed by classes in character dance, jazz, modern and more. Workshops will also be offered in acting or mime with a special opportunity to learn an excerpt from ABT’s expansive repertory!

The inaugural ABT RISE Weekend Workshop was held on February 29, 2020, hosting over 75 New York City public school students at ABT’s 890 Broadway Studios.
The inaugural National ABT RISE Weekend Workshop was held virtually on April 10 and 11, 2021, hosting over 100 young dancers from 30 states.

ABT RISE Boys Weekend Workshops

ABT RISE Boys Weekend Workshops are designed for 2nd and 3rd grade students currently enrolled in a New York City public school.  This inclusive program invites students of all abilities to spend an afternoon with ABT’s teaching faculty, where they will focus on the athleticism and storytelling within classical ballet.

Registration is required and is open to 25 participants per workshop.

ABT RISE Dance Audition Preparation Workshop

Video and In-Person Audition support for 9th, 10th, and 11th grade students 

NYC students in 9th, 10th, and 11th grade are invited to learn strategies to navigate in person and video audition settings. The workshop will include a ballet technique class and a choreographic assignment following protocols used in summer program video audition requirements. Participants should be ready to participate in a ballet technique class, respond to a dance prompt and participate in improvisation.

ABT RISE Selective High School Audition Preparation Workshop          

Support for 8th grade students auditioning for selective performing arts high schools

NYC students in 8th grade planning to apply to one of the selective performing arts high schools are invited to attend this two-hour workshop with ABT faculty and staff. Students will receive information about the application process and take a shortened ballet class as a warmup prior to receiving feedback on the ballet and modern preset video combinations.  Students are encouraged to present their solo dance submission to close our workshop. Our goal is to support student participation in the performing arts high school audition process and to offer access to coaching and feedback.

ABT RISE Summer Workshop

The ABT RISE Summer Workshop has been held for selected students that have participated in one of the ABT RISE Weekend Workshops or ABT RISE Community Days.

This free program engages students for an immersive weeklong Summer Workshop. Students attend daily ballet class and special instruction in character, modern, pantomime, and more!

This weeklong workshop pairs ABT Company dancers serving as ABT RISE Ambassadors with ABT faculty and teaching artists to provide ballet training and introduce students to ABT’s vast repertoire.

The inaugural ABT RISE Summer Workshop was held August 10-14, 2020, hosting 35 New York City public school students.

ABT RISE Master Classes

ABT partners with performing arts high schools and middle schools across the United States that serve historically underrepresented populations in classical ballet.

ABT provides Master Classes and intimate Meet the Artist sessions with aspiring young dancers in New York City and ABT tour cities.

For more information, please contact Dennis Walters at

Public School Programs

American Ballet Theatre proudly offers ongoing public school residencies and performances in New York City and ABT tour cities. These programs introduce 12,000 children annually to ABT teaching artists and performers, providing opportunities for students of all abilities to engage with the Company’s extensive repertoire.

Learn More


ABT has partnered with organizations to expand the Company’s engagement with young communities across New York City and beyond.

Harlem School of the ArtsChildren's Museum of Manhattan  New York City Department of Parks and RecreationGirl Scouts of Greater New York 

KEEN New YorkLincoln Center Passport to the ArtsFresh Air Fund

Photo: Rosalie O'Connor.
Photo: Rosalie O'Connor.


Training Scholarships

ABT RISE expands access to scholarships for the Company’s Summer Intensive, ABT Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis School, and National Training Curriculum offerings.

Dancer Training Programs

Administrative Internships

ABT is committed to identifying, training, and supporting emerging arts administrators from underrepresented communities.

ABT Internship ProgramABT RISE Internship FAQ
Photo courtesy of Luz Iturbe.
Photo courtesy of Luz Iturbe.

Teacher Training

ABT RISE seeks to identify teachers of color and teachers who are committed to furthering the mission of the initiative. ABT provides a limited number of tuition scholarships for qualified teachers to attend ABT’s National Training Curriculum course in Pre-Primary to Level 3.

To be considered for an ABT RISE NTC Scholarship:

  • Submit an Application Form by the Application Deadline for the PP-L3 session you plan to attend.
  • Once you have been approved to register, email a scholarship request letter, along with a letter of recommendation, to In the scholarship request letter, applicants should outline how learning the ABT NTC will help them further the mission of ABT’s RISE Initiative.

Please note: Scholarships cover full tuition ($1,700.00 USD) for any Pre-Primary to Level 3 session held at ABT’s Studios in New York City. Scholarship recipients are responsible for travel, housing, and materials for the course.

National Training CurriculumApplication Form

Inclusive Culture

DEI Working Group

In June 2020, a cross section of people from the ABT Community who are dedicated to promoting inclusion, equity, diversity and transparency within American Ballet Theatre joined forces to form the DEI Working Group.

Mission Statement

Our objective is to work collaboratively across the organization to develop policies and practices that eliminate oppression and discrimination in order to ensure an inclusive work environment.

In response to the challenges of black, indigenous and other people of color (BIPOC) in America today, we support and uplift all people who, based upon their identities, have been targeted, silenced, isolated and/or marginalized. We are committed to igniting systemic change while bringing awareness to the ways that behaviors such as racism, discrimination and cancellation affect the lives of these individuals.

To achieve this goal, we will organize materials to promote anti-discrimination education, create opportunities for open discussion, facilitate ongoing training, and use dance and other art forms to amplify awareness and understanding within our organization and the communities we serve.

We are dedicated to utilizing our collective strength to hold ABT, as an organization, and the individuals who make up the community, accountable for upholding all elements of ABT’s commitment to DEI.

Internal Programs

ABT RISE Education Series

The Company is committed to providing training programs and access to resources that help create a workplace culture primed to support authentic self-expression, to welcome all viewpoints and perspectives and to position all ABT employees to thrive.

ABTalks Series

ABTalks is a program inviting diverse leaders from a variety of industries to share their expertise and engage in conversation with the ABT community.

ABT RISE Mentors

Individuals new to the ABT community will be matched with a mentor from ABT’s staff, artistic, or education arenas to offer welcome, ease the transition, answer questions, and provide career guidance.


In service of these DEI goals, ABT has sought advice and diversity training from the following consultants:

Updates & Contact


For questions about ABT RISE, please contact us.

Contact Us

Support ABT RISE

Your contribution will help American Ballet Theatre advances its commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion on and off the stage.

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Photo: Dennis Walters.