How We Are Learning and Working

Highlights of Our IDEA Work

Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre works to obtain top-down buy-in of IDEA initiatives as part of the organization’s strategic plan. Below are some highlights of our recent work. Stay tuned as we announce additional advancements and initiatives!

  • A full 100% of PBT’s full-time team members (including administration, company and faculty) have completed a six-month ballet-specific IDEA training curriculum led by Theresa Ruth Howard of MoBBallet. 
  • PBT Then and Now: Documenting Diversity” launched in spring 2021 to acknowledge the important role that diverse artists have played in PBT’s history and to explore PBT’s complex relationship with IDEA. The archival project includes creation of an interactive gallery, a collection of oral histories and an accounting of artifacts from PBT’s history related to diversity and equity.
  • Artistic Director Susan Jaffe focused on diversity and innovation in planning PBT’s 2021 – 2022 season, which featured seven women choreographers and three choreographers of color. 
  • A focus on Pittsburgh’s diverse dance and performing arts communities was evidenced by the 36 artists and arts organizations PBT collaborated with at Open Air at Flagstaff Hill in summer 2021. PBT also provided its mobile stage free of cost to organizers for Pittsburgh’s Juneteenth and Black Music Festival celebrations in June 2021.
  • PBT launched its Bridges program with a cohort of 11 dancers in fall 2020. This program is designed to prepare children from PBT’s community-based programs for the Community Youth Scholarship audition and for classes at PBT School.
  • PBT’s Board of Directors is actively engaged with and supports the work of the Transformation Team. Team updates are a standing agenda item at all board meetings and the board is working to diversify its membership to include individuals representative of Pittsburgh’s communities. 
  • PBT team members have been invited to serve on external leadership initiatives related to IDEA work (e.g., Corey Bourboniere, AGMA board of governors; Kati Gigler, Vibrant Pittsburgh Next Generation Council and Dance/USA invited speaker).
  • Ballots and Ballet was an ongoing initiative intended to educate PBT team members and to encourage them to vote. The team provided voter education internally and worked with the marketing team to increase voter awareness using PBT’s social media accounts. Additionally, the team worked with leadership to provide enhanced opportunities for team members to vote in 2020.

Community Learning

Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre works to grow as individuals and as an organization through implementing cultural change processes as articulated by the Equity Project. This work is one of the goals of PBT’s strategic plan. Read on to discover some of the ways we are learning and growing together:

  • The Transformation Team provides regular opportunities for coffee chats, which are open to all PBT team members. Topics vary widely, from holding space for community after significant cultural events to discussion of current events in the dance world related to IDEA. 
  • The Transformation Team started an IDEA book club, which invites PBT team members to engage in bold and inclusive discussions around books from all genres. Selections have included White Fragility by Robin DiAngelo and Minor Feelings by Cathy Park Hong.
  • Many team members have attended a variety of additional workshops and trainings throughout the United States, including programs led by the People’s Institute for Justice and Beyond, The Winters Group and Vibrant Pittsburgh.
  • The Transformation Team shares weekly IDEA learning with the larger PBT community each Tuesday through “Transformation Tuesday” e-blasts.  Monthly events have celebrated Black and LGBTQ+ dancers and history.
  • A robust directory of anti-racism resources (including books, films, recommended businesses and more) has been established and is accessible by all PBT community members. The education team houses a rapidly growing social justice library, from which all PBT community members are free to borrow books.