The World of Blacks in Ballet: Jordan Carter Reflects

Jordan Carter

ARAD’s Fall microgrant helped Jordan Carter attend the International Association of Blacks In Dance (IABD) 50th Annual Conference and Festival. Jordan shares with us how the experience brought to life what he’s been learning in the classroom.

 

 

 

By Jordan Carter

I had the privilege of attending the International Association of Blacks In
Dance (IABD) 50th Annual Conference and Festival. My experience was second to none and truly hit home after an entire year of studying the presence of blacks in ballet. I was given the opportunity to meet the President of the International Association of Blacks In Dance and present her with a hard copy of my masters thesis while also meeting with esteemed members of the Equity Project; which is a new initiative specifically focused on including more black dancers in ballet. In addition, I served as a volunteer for multiple masterclasses such as Youth Hip-Hop taught by Disney Live choreographer Katisha Adams as well as African-Pop taught by Philip Amo Agyapong helping to ensure instructor and student needs were met during the classes. During the evenings, there were a plethora of performances from black dance companies and training academies nationwide.

 
While I wasn’t attending performances or volunteering with masterclasses, I had the opportunity to network with several dance administrators and dancers who I spoke with while completing my thesis. I met IABD Program Operations Manager, Omar Thompson (who I found out is an Atlanta native), and he introduced me to Ms. Katricia Eaglin of the Dallas Black Dance Theater. She contributed a great deal of her knowledge and experience to help complete my masters thesis. I was able to connect with new colleagues such as company members of the Dance Theater of Harlem, Forces of Nature Dance Company, as well as arts administrators with the International Association of Blacks In Dance and Ballethnic Dance Company. I have a unique relationship with the founders and artistic directors of Ballethnic being that they are based in my hometown and I was able to interview them in person this past summer. They are eager to know
of my plans after graduation and have already alluded to potential employment if I were to return to Atlanta.

 
Throughout the weekend, I could not help but to feel an overwhelming sense of belonging amongst the dancers and dance administrators who work tirelessly to showcase a high level of artistic mastery while concurrently defying stereotypes of what it means to be black on stage. To say that the performances I saw were amazing would truly be an understatement. I had the opportunity to watch every dance company I highlighted in my masters thesis perform throughout the duration of the conference. I am currently interning at the Harlem School of the Arts and my supervisor is always alluding to my internship leading onto a permanent position, but this experience solidified that I truly belong at a dance organization like the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, Ballethnic, or the Dallas Black Dance Theater.

 

I am forever grateful for being awarded this micro-grant from the Teachers College Arts Administration Department. This has tremendously elevated my appreciation and commitment to advancing my pro-black agenda through dance. Next year, it will be held in Philadelphia and there is not a chance that I will miss it!

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