A Message from Dance/USA Executive Director Kellee Edusei

May 25, 2022

CONTACT: Johanna Tschebull

Atlanta, Georgia. Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Charleston, South Carolina. El Paso, Texas. Fresno, California. Jersey City, New Jersey. Kenosha, Wisconsin. Louisville, Kentucky. New York, New York. Oak Creek, Wisconsin. Orlando, Florida. Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Portland, Oregon. Poway, California. Rochester, New York. St. Louis, Missouri. St. Paul, Minnesota.

Minneapolis, Minnesota. 
Laguna Woods, California.
Buffalo, New York.

This list of devastating acts of violence motivated by hate is far from exhaustive.

Two years ago today, on May 25, 2020, we witnessed the horrific, unconscionable public murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis, Minnesota, and some were moved to make Black Lives Matter statements. 

In March 2021, some of us – again – made statements in protest of anti-Asian hate as racialized misogyny and xenophobic ideologies manifested the slaughter of Soon Chung Park, Hyun Jung Grant, Suncha Kim, Yong Ae Yue, Delaina Ashley Yaun, Paul Andre Michels, Xiaojie Tan, and Daoyou Feng in Atlanta, Georgia. 

And on May 14 and 15 of this year, we learned of two more acts of violence that took the life of Dr. John Cheng in Laguna Woods, California and the lives of Aaron Salter, Jr., Celestine Chaney, Roberta A. Drury, Andre Mackniel, Katherine Massey, Margus D. Morrison, Heyward Patterson, Geraldine Talley, Ruth Whitfield, and Pearl Young in Buffalo, New York.

We must continue to say their names. And we must stop normalizing acts of oppression and the characteristics of white supremacy culture. These actions, behaviors, comments and interactions are harmful to the individuals in our communities, organizations, and social and familial circles. 

In 2018, Dance/USA articulated the driving engine behind our vision: our belief that dance can inspire a more just and humane world. As such we are committed to amplifying the power of dance to inform and inspire a nation where creativity and the field thrive. As part of this commitment, we are devoted to a practice of centering equity and inclusion at the core of our daily work as we manifest the full intention of our core values

And what I know to be true is dance has the power to heal and connect communities. It has the power to manifest greater equity and inclusion within the ecosystem through deeply connected and interdependent relationships, and if we allow it – it can be transformatively catalytic by gifting us new perspectives.

How will you choose to harness the superpower of dance to evince this vision? 

Accompanying my message today is a powerful call to action by arts activist, spoken word artist, acclaimed speaker, and Vice President and Artistic Director of Social Impact at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, Bamuthi (Marc Bamuthi Joseph). Bamuthi’s message of hope and authenticity warrants absorbing it deeply and more than once. 

As you engage with Bamuthi’s address, I implore you to consider your role as a cultural leader. Ask yourself: How are you choosing to use your leadership to transform your organization, community, the ecosystem, and your personal life, as Bamuthi suggests, to move toward the ethos of systemic allyship / solidarity? How will you choose to choreograph social justice and what would it take for you to do it with authenticity? What are the values you are choosing to infuse into your organization, community, and the ecosystem? 

What are you choosing to emerge from this moment with? 

This fall Dance/USA will offer two sets of virtual workshops, which build upon each other and must be taken in sequential order, to help further your anti-racist work. 

Virtual Race Equity Series: Allyship Training.
October 6-7
1pm-4pm ET/12pm-3pm CT/11am-2pm MT/10am-1pm PT
This two-day session, a three-hour commitment each day, is designed to train community members to be bridge-building allies who promote social justice as a way of life. Total cost for the two-day training is $60 per person. Trainings are open to all regardless of Dance/USA membership status, but space is limited.

Virtual Race Equity Series: White Supremacy 101 and Bias & Microaggressions.
November 1-2
1pm-4pm ET/12pm-3pm CT/11am-2pm MT/10am-1pm PT
White Supremacy 101 and Bias & Microaggressions are the next module in the Race Equity Series. These sessions, a three-hour commitment each day, provide an understanding of Allyship principles and locate anti-Blackness and white supremacy in both current and historical contexts. Total cost for both trainings is $60 per person. Trainings are open to individuals who have completed the Allyship Training. Space is limited.

Both trainings will be facilitated by Service Never Sleeps, a Black-led organization building a socially-just world by catalyzing individual action to advance racial and social justice through Allyship and skills-based service. 

Registration for these workshops opens in August. Make the commitment to take them. And if you have already participated in these trainings, I invite you to encourage others within your networks, leadership teams, and Boards to sign up.

Echoing Bamuthi’s words, join me as we collectively make a world of value together.

With my deepest gratitude and in humble service,

Kellee Edusei
Executive Director

About Dance/USA
Propelled by our belief that dance can inspire a more just and humane world, Dance/USA will amplify the power of dance to inform and inspire a nation where creativity and the field thrive.

Established in 1982, Dance/USA champions an inclusive and equitable dance field by leading, convening, advocating, and supporting individuals and organizations. Dance/USA’s core programs are focused in the areas of engagement, advocacy, research, and preservation. Learn more about Dance/USA at danceusa.org.

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