Curated and introduced by Ta-Nehisi Coates

Virginia Johnson
Jennifer Homans

Benjamin Millepied 

Recently, ballet companies have been denounced for uncritically perpetuating traditions at odds with contemporary society and notions of racial diversity, equality, and social justice. In France, Benjamin Millepied is actively trying to push back against racial stereotyping in the ballet; meanwhile, in the United States, the recent rise of Misty Copeland as the first black female principal dancer at American Ballet Theatre has thrust this decades-old debate into the spotlight. However, in both societies, ballet traditions run deep and those who may have the most to gain from reevaluating ballet’s traditions and labels minorities and dancers of color are some of its staunchest supporters. Virginia Johnson, Benjamin Millepied, and Jennifer Homans discuss race, equity, and otherness in ballet, against a larger backdrop of politics in American and French society today.


Race, Equity, and Otherness in Ballet and Society was co-presented by The Center for Ballet and the Arts and the Cultural Services of the French Embassy as part of Festival Albertine 2016.   The event was made possible by support from Michele and Timothy Barakett, and Cheryl and Blair Effron.

Curated by National Book Award-winning author of Between the World and Me, Ta-Nehisi Coates, the third annual Festival Albertine took place from November 2nd through 6th, 2016 and explored the changing nature of identity and how the arts interrogate our national, social, and cultural labels today in France and the US.  Information about Festival Albertine 2017 will be available here in the coming months.

Festival Albertine is made possible with major support from The Recanati-Kaplan Foundation, Susannah Hunnewell, Air France, Van Cleef & Arpels, Institut français, and the Center for Ballet and the Arts at New York University. Generous support is provided by Champagne Pommery and The Carlyle, A Rosewood Hotel.

Learn about this event and more on our event page.