17 Nov Ep. #99 Creativity is Diversity with Jonathan Batista
We have a long way to go before we reach TOTAL diversity, equity and inclusion in the ballet industry, but today’s guest is hopeful and full of heart. Jonathan Batista was born in Rio De Janeiro, Brazil, and went on to train at The Royal Ballet School in London, England, before graduating from the English National Ballet School and Trinity College London with a degree in dance. That was the very begging of a long and unusual professional career. As a person of color, he has a voice and advocates change for diversity and inclusion in the ballet world. In 2021, Jonathan won the Art Culture & Music Award by The TAF AWARD FOUNDATION, and in this episode, we celebrate him for his work, journey, and the future of ballet.
Intro: This is words that move me, the podcast where movers and shakers, like you get the information and inspiration. You need to navigate your creative career with clarity and confidence. I am your host master mover, Dana Wilson. And if you’re someone that loves to learn, laugh and is looking to rewrite the starving artist story, then sit tight, but don’t stop moving because you’re in the right place.
Hello, hello, my friend. Welcome to The Words That. Move Me. I’m Dana. This is my podcast. This is my excited voice because I am so excited to share this conversation that I just had with my new friend, Jonathan Batista. Jonathan was a principal dancer with Oklahoma city ballet for many, many years. He is now a soloist for Pacific Northwest ballet. Shout out to all my listeners up in Seattle. If you get a chance to go see Jonathan perform their Nutcracker season is about to start. So get ya booty to go see Pacific Northwest ballet. Um, Jonathan and I, uh, spoke before this interview a little bit about the life of a principal dancer for a ballet company. Y’all this person is so what is the word I’m looking for? Focused deliberate, um, energized, motivated, disciplined, I mean, wow. All of the good things that all of these virtuous qualities that we reserve for people who are out there doing it, but also a human, a real kind human being that I so enjoyed talking to. Um, so in our preliminary chat, we talked about his morning routine, which starts at 4:30 in the morning, meditation workout, you know, body self-care thought work. Um, and then off to the gym before heading into the studio for full rehearsal day, we didn’t dig into those nuts and bolts. In this episode, um, we kept our conversation focused on something quite different, which much, much deserves much, much attention. Um, we talked about what it means to be a person of color in the ballet industry, a lot to discuss there. Jonathan had some really great insights and, and hopeful words and sentiments.
Um, I’m excited to share all that with you, but first let’s do wins. I am so jazzed about my win today because my win today, which is a little bit early, it’s a pre celebration, um, is that next week’s episode will be our 100th episode. Now, technically I think it’s actually like 107 or 106, because I started with episode 0.5. We like to sprinkle in bonus episodes here and there, but like, if we’re sticking to the number next week is 100 and celebrate. I’m going to give $100 cash away to one of you listening, perhaps. Um, this will be an Instagram contest. All you have to do is tag words that move me podcast. All one word, no spaces, no dashes, no nothing fancy, um, tag words that move me podcast and nine people that you think would enjoy listening to the pod. This could be in the form of, you know, your own photo that you post a talking head video of yourself, perhaps leaving, um, a few of your takeaways or sentiments about the podcast. You could also repost any one of our previous posts or episode posts, um, in your story, again, be sure to tag words that move me podcast and nine people you think would love to listen each time you do that counts as one entry. So if you do a lot of that, you stand a lot of chance to win $100 cash from my home wallet to yours via the US postal service. I’m so excited about this. I haven’t like put cash in an envelope in awhile. Shout out Venmo, shout out PayPal. Um, so I’m excited about this. I’m excited to celebrate 100 episodes with you. Excited to ship out some greenbacks or probably just one greenback greenback. Did anybody else call money greenback? Anyways, I digress. That’s what’s going well in my world. I’m pre celebrating episode 100 and letting you know about our contest, if you’re confused about anything I just said, which might be the case because they didn’t have it written down. That was just stream of consciousness, head over to words the move me podcast for the next week on Instagram. I will be sure to be posting a lot about this contest. So you have all the important information. Okay. That’s it for me handing the mic to you. What is going well in your world? Tell me all about it.
Yes. My friend, you are winning congrats, so proud of you, virtual hug. I hope you felt it. Let’s talk Jonathan Batista. And then let’s talk with Jonathan Batista. Jonathan, as I mentioned is a tremendously passionate kindhearted individual with so much drive. His drive has taken him from his birth town town. Rio de Janeiro is not a town birth city. Um, Rio de Janeiro in Brazil, all over the world, dancing for some tremendously renowned ballet companies. Hearing about his experience as a person of color in the ballet industry was fascinating to me. Um, brought up a lot of questions that I have a lot of concerns that I have. And I think this conversation, um, certainly is an ongoing one, but will be helpful for you to be a part of. I can’t wait to hear what you think about it. I hope that you learn a lot and, um, I hope that you keep it super duper funky. I’ll talk to you guys later. Enjoy this conversation with Jonathan Batista,
Dana: Jonathan Batista. Welcome to words that move me. Thank you so much for being here.
Jonathan: Thank you so much for having me.
Dana: I’m delighted. And I want to get in to this conversation because I know it will be illuminating. Um, but what did we start in the, in the, uh, in the lazy river, um, I want to hear to the degree of depth that you choose, um, any information that you would like for us to know about you? I think you’re certainly newer to me and might be new to my listeners as well. Uh, go ahead and dish. What, what would you like us to know about you?
Jonathan: Yes, well, um, my name is Jonathan Battista. I was born in Brazil. I was born in Rio, uh, the city of so many great things. You know, you talk about culture, we talk about Samba, talk about art music and, um, so much to offer. So I come from a very wealthy cultural background, um, which is the country itself, which is Brazil. And I started training. Um, well, I would say I started doing a lot of things as a young man. Um, my parents kept me very busy. You know, I went from sports to martial arts, um, music, theater. Um, what else, um, you name it until I found ballet or I would say ballet found me. I truly believe that. Right. I truly believe that ballet was an art form art form that shows me because I was not interested at first. Um, I think there was a lot of resistance for me to dance, but I was a dancer, a natural dancer already. I started dancing with the ballroom in school, academic school, they would have a program or two
Was this, uh, uh, I’m sure school in Brazil is very different than it is here. The equivalent of a public school and dance was part of the curriculum.
That’s right. It was a public school and, and it was a part of the curriculum to take dance classes. And so I did take ballroom and my teacher just looked at me and said, look, I believe you have something there. You have a gift for dance. And you know, I’m a kid I’m here playing soccer and going to a karate class Capitol era and music, studying music history, and ballet would be the last thing that I would have thought about. Hmm. But in my journey, I think that my mom really took what my teacher, um, had said. And really, I thought, well, let me, let me introduce him to dance classes. And I started with, uh, Jess tap class for the kind of a combo class. Yes. Which is the usual. Right. And you go into a studio, you do tap and jazz, and then quickly, because I was also the only male down. So the only men, the only boy at that time in the studio, you were also included in ballet classes, right there was signed up immediately. And so that’s how I started my journey. So ballet class started and I used to be teased a lot because I was the only man in ballet. And, and I don’t think that really had, um, this way to do it all. I’d say right now, I was just happy to be there, I guess. And from there I joined a, a more professional of a professional ballet school and with a full scholarship. And that’s how I started my journey. And from there on, you know, uh, I received a scholarship to go to Miami state about this school, uh, in Florida and I returned to Brazil. And then I was also, uh, awarded the, a full scholarship with college integrative college for English national ballet school. At 15 years old.
So is that, is that what brought you here?
Yes. So at 15 I went to London, actually I went to London and the United Kingdom to study, um, ballet and dance. I did a short stay at the Royal ballet school. I think it’s at the summer of 2009. And, um, and from there on, I stayed three years in England with a full scholarship. I attended Trinity college. Uh, we also had a few courses with Cambridge university and I was so naive to all of these great moments in my life because I, I always had a sense of giving my all to these opportunities that I didn’t even know that I was attending college at that time. I was just studying.
What did you think you were doing?
I have no idea. I thought, well, I guess this is the part of ballet.
Oh, I see. Okay. This is like, this is your training training training in ballet means receiving all of this, this training,
Correct. You receiving all the information, all of the training, all of the studies. And so it wasn’t until I moved to my uni because I, I suffered a, a, an injury. I moved to Miami and then from Miami, I moved to Canada. Um, and I receive a letter in the mail and that was my diploma or, uh, uh, my diploma in dance, but Trinity college and English national ballet school. And I was just like, wow, this is fantastic.
I do that. You literally lived the dream of college and you woke up one day and it was over. And you had your diploma that way. I’m sure. There’s so, so many of my listeners are listening. Like, could it just be that way for me please? I keep waking up and I’m still here. That’s fascinating. Okay. Carry on. Keep going. What happened next?
Yeah, I, and then from there I went to Canada, um, went to Canada. I was an apprentice with the national ballet of Canada. I had a great steak with a company. I learned a lot. And from that journey from veterinary, with the national ballet of Canada, I was forwarded or recommended to Boston ballet. And that’s how I came back to the United States. And with the Boston ballet, I spent two years, uh, and with the company, I had a lot of great opportunities. I think it really defined my career on that moment. Um, I had, uh, lots of soloist, uh, soloist opportunity to perform solos, uh, featured roles, principal roles as well. And, but as a younger man, I I’ve always been in search of more or exploring my story, exploring myself. And I’ve always thought, well, you know what, if I have to move somewhere, if I have to try something, I do have the energy to try it. Now I was about 21, 22. So I thought, you know, I don’t, I wouldn’t want to move at 30 or 30, 1 32. It’s a little bit harder. Um, and so I did move again. I moved to Cincinnati and at that time I moved back to the soloist.
It was that exactly where you were before you were at, for Oklahoma city.
It was right before.
Okay. I didn’t mean to cut to the chase, but that’s not even the chase, cause that’s not where you are now. I, if we had, like, if we had little dots on a map of places, companies, you have, you have graced, um, we’d have, the country would look like the world looked like a little Christmas. Okay. So Ohio,
Ohio, and then before Oklahoma state ballet, I went to Milwaukee ballet. Yes. I mean, it’s
Kind of one.
And from milwaukee, I, I audition to the Oklahoma city ballet and I got in as a principal dancer. I was actually a principal dancer with Milwaukee ballet as well. And, and then I auditioned to Oklahoma city ballet, I think with the works that I did with the Oklahoma city ballet as well. I needed to experience, I would say more of a freedom, right. Because I was the starter of so many things with your collateral, Oklahoma city ballet, being a company, um, that had its own rebirth, right. It’s a small company, a company that’s up and coming. So, uh, the structure of that company was still, um, in its building process, right. There were still building up. Uh, and I was a part of that building process during those four years. And I guess I just wanted to become just a dancer right.
Hmm. Not so, so you found roots, you found a sense of community and then you thought maybe I will branch off. If I were to stick with the analogy, actually that would be not, not so helpful to the metaphor. Um, you, you felt in finding, oh, this is how I operate as a part of a bigger picture where you are wondering, I wonder how I operate as, as one piece. Absolutely. What does the individual, the dancer, you know, look and you went to, and there was, was, that was the opportunity presented before that thought happened, where had the thought happened and then the opportunity came and you said that
If that happened, and then the opportunity presented itself, it was almost like it manifested with the energy that it put towards it. And the faith that I put towards, uh, coming to a company that it’s actually challenging to get in, I have applied before, um, it’s a top five company in the country. I thought about the visibility off a dancer and also Pacific Northwest Ballet offered a lot of, um, uh, experience with different choreographers from all over the world. And that’s something that I wanted to do
It’s really heartening to hear how possible it is to invest long-term and still have more distance to go. Like, it’s, you won’t run out of loving dance just because you’re leaving a city that the place you are doesn’t dictate the dancer that you are. Um, but there was, there will certainly be an, there will certainly be different opportunities in different places. I mean, location, location, location, that’s what that’s when the real estate agent, um, that, that makes a lot of sense, right? So you, you come from a very culturally rich place and you traveled to very many different culturally rich places and wow. What a wealth of experiences has given you and you, it, what I’m hearing is that perhaps even more than dancing, it’s a mission of yours to be giving back or sharing and creating more opportunities for others to do the same. So maybe that’s a, a good segway. Let’s talk about giving, let’s talk about doorways. Um, in a, in 2021, you won the art and culture and music award by TAF, the Taft foundation for your contributions in representation and activism. And I’m pretty sure this will be a very long answer, so let’s get into it. Uh, I am so excited to hear this answer, but what I would love to know is how, and you can get as granular or broad about this as you want. How are you being a part of making ballet more diverse, more rich, more cultured, more inclusive?
Well, I, I think that journey started with the Oklahoma city ballet as well. Um, I’ve been, I am a black man right in ballet. And there was a time that I realized how fortunate and blessed I am for having a very fruitful career, uh, for going from company to company and perhaps being the first of everything and, uh, experiencing the lack of celebration of my culture and other cultures as well. I was the first black principal dancer in the 50 years of the company’s history and, you know, getting to 30, I realized, well, who’s next? Uh, we cultivating talents. Uh, we seen people of different background, uh, BIPOC, uh, people, artists, uh, we seeing them for their talent and for, uh, who they are and giving them the opportunity to be on stage, um, and to be seen, or, or to be, and to become, to exist within these spaces. They are predominantly white. And I guess I, once again, it was by opening the doors and paving the way for more people, because the work that that have been doing it’s for the current generation and the next generation as well, and how, and, and during that process, you know, there was a lot of pain, um, through it because, you know, we start talking about it. There’s a lot of confusion, a lot of resistance, and it takes a while for it to settle down and for us to start the work. So it took me a little bit, it was very challenging. And at some point I took my pain and, and, and, and, and this pain, or this process is process that comes from me from years, right? During school, through all the companies that I’ve been with until this moment with the Oklahoma city ballet. And I took my pain and it turned it into purpose. And my purpose was to bring diversity, equity and inclusion to ballet companies. And how do we do that? I often say is base that I, that the protests that we started having of the United States last year with the death of George Floyd, um, Brianna Taylor, and, and more, um, they started, they sparked more conversation about injustice throughout the country. And this conversation started everywhere. And dancers started protesting as to why we don’t have the visibility. Um, and so companies started listening to it, which was very important. It was a mark and the, by the world, like, this is, it’s not the first time that we do these conversations, but it’s the first time that it’s being noticed. Uh, it’s the first time that it’s been exposed, uh, to the audience,
Uh, general, public’s looking at it, hearing it, seeing it.
Yes, absolutely. Which obligates the company to do something about it to really, okay. Let’s sit down and, and talk about it. Yes. Right.
It obligated though. Like how, how, how, how does diversity become more than a box to check? What is the incentive other than optics for companies to be inclusive? I mean, I think I know the answer, which is you have a rich and diverse lived experience in your company. The audience gets a richer, more diverse experience in the seats. I think that it seems plain as day to me, but I don’t think, you know, my experience as an artist and as an audience is the same as the experience of, you know, the people behind the desk or the people on the boards who are making those decisions. And it’s hard. I feel selfish to ask for, like, I want you to be more diverse and I want it to come from a good hearted place. And they want you to know why it’s important. That isn’t just like, you know, the optics. I, you know, I wish I had a different word to use, but it feels like I’m asking a lot in my, in my desires for that. Maybe it’s it’s, I, it’s certainly not important what I want, but have you noticed it becoming a box to check? Have you noticed meaningful shifts in the systems that have for so long kept people of color from being center in the ballet world?
I think that companies have companies and artistic directors have made the effort to hire, um, black indigenous people of color, uh, into there are companies, but when it comes to diversity, equity and inclusion, what I talk to these leaders about is that they all go hand in hand. I think that we have checked the box with diversity in the country, uh, with right.
But do people feel included will feel like they belong there?
Absolutely. That’s the question? Uh, because we are diverse, look, we have black people, we have blacks we have people of color. We have indigenous, or we have, uh, uh, Asians and more, uh, but are they being included within the system and how do we create this inclusion? How do we open up in order to, uh, include them? How do we, uh, have equity within this ballet companies? Right. Because they do go hand in hand first, obviously you have diversity. That’s how you hire, um, um, multiple cultures, multiple people, different cultures. And, and then you create the accessibility, right? When it comes through to a ballet company, you create the accessibility through casting, which is first, uh, van rehearsal, studio time on stage time, and then followed by performance. Now it’s only inclusive once you’re a part of that system and that order of casting studio time rehearsal on stage, time and performance.
And that’s also, when we talk about, uh, representation and visibility, how do we create representation within a ballet company? And as a specific community, it’s having them go through the process of casting studio time, stage, time, and then performance. And that’s how the public can really, uh, identify themselves within that one person, uh, on stage. And then through visibility. How do we do that? Again, we go through the same process, but are these dancers being, um, marketed by a social media where we market most of our programs? Are they in the programs? Are they, um, are they performing a specific role?
Um, I think position of leadership, uh, within, uh, a ballet production, uh, meaning are they performing a principal role or soloists role? Um, social media, photos, videos, images, uh, emails, and, and that’s how you create the representation and visibility. And then you bring it back to the system, um, actually through the system. And that’s how we’re able to create this, the idea of celebration of cultures, um, through the space that we are in. So, and, and, and the issue that we have we’ve faced sometimes it’s that, yes, we are hired, but where are we? We are not performing. And we have these examples almost every year. And companies now have made once again, that is proof and evidence that companies have opened subcommittees of, uh, diversity, equity and inclusion subcommittees to have more of a broad conversation, right? Yeah. Um, training and that’s one of the Pacific Northwest ballet is doing, we doing training as well, um, to identify these microaggressions that happened within the studio that they are not aware of. So there’s a lot of awareness that we are bringing, um, through education, right? Educating our audience, educating our leaders, educating, uh, the board of governors of alphabet ballet company, uh, to say, look, we have a community that we want to represent. We need to represent because we have dancers from those communities. And if you’re not on stage, then it’s just, we’re just back to the idea of diversity.
No, I did not intend for that be an exasperated side, but I cannot help, but feel there is so much to be done. Um, after so many years of the championed social identity in the ballet industry was white, um, is white for so long. Um, um, I’m sure we have a long way to go to total equity, equality, and inclusion. Um, what do you see as being the biggest challenges set ahead, and how can the people listening who hold privilege in those spaces help?
I believe it’s, it’s a matter of accountability, willingness and commitment. And there’s a lot of fear. Um, that goes on in the, in the world of ballet, even with artistic leadership, a lot of fear and pressure, but I truly believe that, uh, valet has been celebrating one culture for so long that they are afraid of going a different route. You know, you see that assistant system is not as inclusive because, you know, we don’t have, uh, many black artistic directors or artistic directors of different cultures and backgrounds as oh, had had experience, uh, other cultures as well. And so it’s challenging for them. I believe it’s challenging for them to just make that change because it goes against their reality and what they have been accustomed to.
But isn’t that what isn’t that what creativity is, isn’t that your role as a creative director is to imagine something that doesn’t exist yet, or to imagine a way that is a way that isn’t the way it’s always been.
Absolutely. But then you, you see the percentage of, uh, minorities, BIPOC artists within a ballet company, and it’s considerably, uh, smaller, small. When you come to 45 dancers in a ballet company, you only have four black dancers and you only have five Latin X dancers. And then you have about that say, uh, what does that, 30 some 30 plus light dancers, uh, by the time you make a decision to put a ballet on stage a production on stage, majority of roles will go for those white dancers. Uh, and so there’s not much, and again, we are becoming a diversity company, but the question is, are we included? We think that one system, right, right. And there is space like that is space for rehearsal on stage time, but we lack commitment and we lack willingness and accountability. And we do have to educate people. The, the, the people who come to stage these ballets, they have to be educated on the culture that we are trying to establish. And unfortunately, we fail to do that because majority of choreographers that comes to big companies, they are also Caucasians and whites. And so whenever they choose select a dancer, they will select the dancers that they will identify themselves with. And that will be another white dancer. And what I’m saying is that’s the priority. Sometimes it’s seeing one black dancer on stage and the company, the leadership sometimes celebrate the diversity through one person on the stage, right. Which sometimes can turn into tokenism.
That’s the person on the flyer. And then you go see the show. And they’re not even in the, in the work that you’re saying that night, the one person before,
And they are not even the works that was on the flyer. Yeah. And so it’s, those are the challenges that we have, you know, that we have to really educate and continue to educate these leaders in order for us to influence change. And one of the things that I saw with the Oklahoma city ballet that was so happy about it is we started the work. Uh, I believe it was in July. And when August came, we were doing the work immediately, immediately. And
Is that not? What is the usual timeline of a lifetime of, uh, of a work?
And here’s a line that I, that I always hear as a black dancer, you have to wait, change, takes time. And I remember saying this to an executive director, I said, change does not take time. Change takes action. Time is now, time is a constant time is now. And so there’s always this, oh, it was, you know, I didn’t perform on program. It’s just this program. Don’t worry. You’re going to perform again. And I’ve been through this experience where then I signed the contract and all those promises that you’ve had from a director, oh, you’re going to perform X, Y, Z was assigned the contract. You don’t perform those, those roles. You are not given that opportunity, uh, to, uh, develop your artistry or your, your skills. And it’s almost like it’s a trap once they signed that contract. And what I’ve talked to artistic directors, I said, I say that, yes, it’s going to be challenging to also conquer, uh, other cultures, uh, trust. Why is that the ass? They might think that it’s still organism because everything that we do, these new actions towards diversity inclusion and equity, we must take action with consistency in order for us to connect and engage with other cultures rather than white,
And to make long lasting change. It must must be happening consistently, not just on one contract for one dancer on one company in one city, we’re talking about collective shift consistency all over.
Yeah, absolutely not to mention that, uh, black dancers and dancers of different cultures, uh, they have to work 10 times more, right. And this work is not always a physical work. It’s equity, it’s sweat equity, mental equity, um, that go goes into these, these works that we do. Um, and so that needs to be a sensitivity awareness towards that as well. And because I think the conversation is going okay, how does a dance, how can we make you feel comfortable? And I answers will always be well by performing, by being on stage. You know, the life of a dancer is by performing. And I understand that sometimes you won’t perform a certain role. Sometimes you won’t perform a certain piece, but to exclude you from, uh, a system that organically excludes you is also not helpful. So, uh, yeah, we have a lot of work to do and, and I’m staying hopeful.
Um, I’m, I’m inspired by your hopefulness and the path that you’re laying and the actions that you’re taking. Um, yeah. Thank you so much for being really transparent about what it, what it really means to be a person of color in the ballet industry. Um, I’m, I’m sure it is far more complicated and nuanced than I can ever imagine, and you navigate it so gracefully and explain it with compassion and understanding and patience. And that’s, uh, I can’t think of a better example to set. So thank you so much for that. Thank you for being here and talking to me today.
Thank you for the opportunity. Uh, I think you know how you are a part of it. I know you’re a part of this journey. Okay.
Oh my goodness. He has signed me up. Tell me where I can. I can spend my privilege if I, if I hold any in the ballet world would probably
Doing it already.
Know, it’s, I love talking about dance and I agree with you. I’m very much in alignment that I love dancers. I love people. And it is, has always been a focus of mine to serve the people who do the thing that I love to be doing, which is dance. Um, and I, I, I think that a lot of our training naturally, obviously is physical. And I wish that there were more of a, a mental component because a lot of the things that dancers and especially people of color come up against in, you know, our professional industry, um, are things that we were not prepared for in a dance class, certainly not standing at a ballet bar. So I’m happy to offer this space, the podcast as a resource to have conversations like these, and be an example of how to have conversations like these, and also, um, hopefully empower people to maybe, you know, in, in circumstances like mine, I’ll give a very specific example. Um, after the summer of 2020, I stopped teaching hip hop, very easy decision for me that hit me like a ton of bricks. And it just was so simple and so clear that I could name more than fingers and toes on my body. People of color who live, eat, drink, love, hip hop culture. It’s true. I love to be dancing. I love funk. It’s true that my timing and placement in this world gave me exposure to some great training and I love sharing what I’ve learned, but are there people who can do this better than me? Absolutely. And I feel great passing that opportunity on to them. I feel very good about that. I don’t feel scared of that, but I know that I’m not, um, I know that I’m not alone, but I also know that that that’s not probably the majority rule in terms of like, how, how does it feel for white people to be asking to pass, work on to people of color? I’m imagining that to some people, it does not feel empowering. It feels threatening. And I think that I can see where the problem lies there. Um, and I don’t know yet the solution to that, but I think it starts up, up here and in here, I’m tapping my tapping my head and my heart. It’s what humans get. Right. We have that. Yeah. We have awareness. We have the ability to think about the future. We have the ability to watch ourselves think and feel in the present. And I’m just hoping that we, as a greater community can elevate above and outside of our individual selves. And think about the big picture here.
Yes. Well, thank you. That was, that was beautiful. And I, you know, I think the word is awareness and we can share of common knowledge and we could really, you know, just have that, uh, that trade, that experience. And I think the first thing that connects that connects us is it’s the heart, right? It’s the sow of an artist. Whether if it’s hip hop ballet, modern Samba, oh no. It’s, uh, you know, and whether you’re black, white, um, Latin X native, uh, do you understand? And it’s beautiful that, that thank you for that, that you’re aware it’s, it’s a system and it, that’s what I was even talking to. A friend of mine have said, uh, he’s a white male. And I said to him, I am not fighting you. I am fighting the system. And in that way, we broke so many walls between us, you know, and wait for it to not be personal. Right. It’s not personal. And, and then we were able to see that we truly appreciate each other for who we are and that’s the work. And that’s, it’s just, as you say, it’s fascinating. Ah,
It is fascinating every step of the way, every turn, every new contract negotiation, every new first black soloist on every company they’re here, but I’m fascinated. I’m on the edge of my seat, but I also, I cannot help, but feel a little bit impatient. And you mentioned before, and it kind of stuck with me being told, you have to wait or change, you know, this change isn’t going to happen overnight. I have noticed in myself, and I know him, I’m a very small piece, but some changes can happen overnight. Yes, absolutely. I made the decision, you know, my decision about the type of work I will take on and the type of work I will pass along. I made that decision literally overnight and it felt awesome. So I would encourage, perhaps anybody who’s listening to be thinking about the changes you can make really fast right now that might have really long and rippling effects. And then where are the places where we can be, or where, where are the places we can bend and be more flexible so that we can have more endurance? Um, because yeah, it really is. It’s about the long game, huh?
Absolutely. And I second you on that. And, and if I may add, um, also I really would love people to acknowledge that and encourage people to acknowledge that change starts with you. You know, um, it starts, it’s a small thing, right? Within your own environment, within your space. It, you know, when I wanted, uh, there was a time where I wanted to use my voice and it was so afraid, so afraid. And when I did use it, I had no idea that I had that power within me, that energy to influence change, and actually to see that there were people with me behind me, I saying behind me, was the generation that is up and coming really waiting for that moment. And instead of fearing, once I did that, once I looked around, I found so much love, so much support from every community, from every culture. So we have that power, we have that within us. And, and I understand it’s now that work takes time, you know? And, but when you do it, take your time when you do it, it would be at the right time for you to make a change within your own environment.
Thank you so much for adding that. Yeah. I think that’s a fabulous place to wrap it up. You all have a lot to go and think about, um, Jonathan, thank you so much for being here with me today. I look forward to talking to you again.
Thank you, Dana. It’s been an honor. Look forward to talking to you again. Thank you.
All right. Y’all I know I already did my sign off at the beginning before this conversation happened, but I feel compelled to like wrap it up one more time. Jonathan is hopeful for change in the systems in place, um, that are the systems that determine who winds up on top in center stage, if you will, of the ballet world. And he’s all for making changes to the big picture, to those systems and starting with the self. So if you and I had any homework today, it might be simply to ask yourself what changes you can make and how those changes will affect the big systems that drive and move our world. I hope you have fun chewing on that. Again. I would love to hear what you think of this episode. Please feel free to contact me with any and all feedback I’m at @DanaDaners on Instagram. And of course the podcast is words that move me podcast thrilled about our hundredth episode contest. Get in there and get paid and get real funky on your way. I’ll talk to you guys soon. Bye
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