NPB releases an anti-racism statement and signs the Final Bow for Yellowface pledge.
Cultural Audit Timeline
NPB leadership, staff, and artists complete diversity, equity, and inclusion education and training courses.
NPB hires Alexandria Lattimore as consultant to conduct a cultural audit for The Nutcracker.
Ms. Lattimore, Janet Dziak, and Melaina Kampf meet for the first work session. During this session, they discussed the definition and implications of cultural appropriations and the process of creating a risk-assessment ledger was created.
The audit team worked to detail each scene and role in The Nutcracker, assigning a numerical value for each for the following: level of risk, financial cost, and amount of time required to remediate.
Audit team met for second session to review the values assigned in the risk assessment ledger. A phased approach was created and plan designed for implementation by the creative team.
Audit team met for a third session which included a larger group of NPB staff member, artist representative, board representative, volunteer representative, and community representative to discuss the process and results.
Creative team worked through ways to implement changes indicated in phase 1 as they planned for The Nutcracker 2021.
September 2, 2021
Ms. Lattimore hosted a virtual town hall meeting for dancers, families, and community members to discuss audit results and implementation prior to auditions for The Nutcracker.
Production for The Nutcracker gets underway, implementing changes in casting, choreography, costumes, props, and script.
Ms. Lattimore leads NPB company artists through discussion on audit process, receives feedback, and presents feedback to creative team.
Final adjustments are made prior to performances of The Nutcracker.
The Nutcracker, including modifications indicated in phase 1 of NPB’s cultural audit, is presented at the Lorain Palace Theatre and Near West Theatre.
Years 1 and 2
After reflecting on the audit results, the creative team based updates around the theme “All are welcome to the party.” Focusing on minor changes that would have a big impact, most of the differences might be subtle to observers, but create a foundation to build upon diversity and inclusion in subsequent productions.
While the Chinese and Arabian variations were identified as the most in need of reform, the creative team went back to the true reason behind why the divertissement characters were present in the scene. The team re-confirmed the concept of a party for Clara, where each character brought a special treat. “Potlucks” for dancers have been a part of NPB tradition since its inception, and wanted the audience to see the joy behind food sharing at social celebrations. Instead of modifying individual variations to eliminate cultural appropriation, the team eliminated all cultural references in favor of more direct dessert inspirations.
- Increasing Diversity in Corps de Ballet and Principal Roles
- Being intentional about cast diversity
- Continue to engage mission program participants in mainstage productions
- Require patience as we figure out best practices
- Strategic plan, board involvement
- Evaluate hiring practices, marketing, leadership
- Continue to develop partnerships
- Evaluate programming
- Community input
- Being intentional about cast diversity
- Regular check-ins with consultant
- Another audit
Artist, Academic, Social Worker, and Consultant
Lexy Lattimore is an artist, academic, social worker, and consultant. She is a Mandel Leadership Fellow at Case Western Reserve University where she studies and researches trauma-informed, healing-centered community building through the arts. Lexy’s research has focused on community trauma and resilience, the intersections of city planning, neighborhood engagement, and “choreographing space”, and racial equity and inclusion. Her research influences her work in Cleveland’s historic Hough and Glenville neighborhoods where she’s had the pleasure of consulting with organizations including, the Community Innovation Network, MidTown Cleveland, LAND Studio, Third Space Action Lab, The Cleveland Foundation, The City of Cleveland, and Neighborhood Connections.
In addition to her community practice, Lexy has had an extensive career as a dancer, performer, and storyteller. She has performed with two contemporary ballet companies and has traveled to Cuba, Spain, Italy, and Australia, sharing her love for dance with the world. She has produced her own work in NYC, Boston, Durham, and Cleveland. Lexy graduated cum laude from Duke University with a Bachelor’s in History and honors in Dance. She is the recipient of the Cleveland Arts Prize Verge Fellowship.
“When Janet invited me to review and discuss North Pointe Ballets’ effort to reimagine a more diverse and inclusive version of The Nutcracker for their company and community, I was not prepared for what they had accomplished in such a short period.
Janet, the board, and staff have taken on a project that is not for the faint of heart, they chose a very analytical and structured examination of practices, policies, and institutional barriers a more inclusive artistic content/performances that are reflective of their diverse community Janet and her team recognize that what they are proposing to implement is fraught with the potential for intense backlash, no matter what the proposed change is. The bravery in self-evaluation and introspection is applauded and encouraged. The first step is always the hardest and I feel that North Pointe Ballet is headed in the right direction.”