I freelanced this piece on assignment from DanceUSA thanks to their editor (and mine) Lisa Traiger.
The arts is a field represented by stars and a March 2015 DeVos Institute event at the Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center at the University of Maryland College Park brought together six major luminaries. Arthur Mitchell (founder of Dance Theatre of Harlem), Tina Ramirez (founder of Ballet Hispanico), Carmen de Lavallade (dancer, choreographer and actress), Lou Bellamy (founder of Penumbra Theater), Miriam Colon (founder of Puerto Rican Travelling Company), and Rita Moreno (stage and screen actress) shared the stage and a conversation under the umbrella “Diversity in the Arts: Legends of the Field.” The purpose of the event was to celebrate the panelists and provide a platform to discuss how their cultures informed their careers. Ford Foundation president Darren Walker moderated the discussion and noted: “How fitting that our first symposia brings together pioneers who brought down the barriers in the arts.”
The “Legends of the Field” discussion was the first in a series of diversity symposia the DeVos Institute of Arts Management will be convening. These DeVos Institute symposia on diversity resonated with the observances of the 50th anniversary of the march from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama. The march became a watershed in the Civil Rights movement that in some ways enabled the careers enjoyed by the panelists. Walker noted that while diversity in the arts have come a long way since Selma and 1965, our continued focus on diversity in the field remains necessary to expand the boundaries of inclusiveness. Continue reading