Dear Ballet West,
On April 18, I attended your production of “Return to a Strange Land,” “Summerspace” and “The Shakespeare Suite.” As a Shakespeare scholar and lover of dance, I appreciated the pairing of the larger-than-life characters with the Duke Ellington score.
However, I cannot stress how disappointed I was to see a white dancer take the stage to portray Othello. As the importance of representation comes to the forefront of our national and international conversations, I felt this was a grave misstep on the part of Ballet West.
One of the central themes of “Othello” is racism. The story falls apart if you have a white man portraying Othello and a white woman playing Desdemona.
In February, you posted a video with your dancers who are people of color. They spoke about their varied experiences as people of color and what it means to be a representative for young dancers who might be struggling with similar issues. You wrote that Ballet West “celebrates and honors Black History Month.” To then turn around and cast white men as Othello seems to contradict that point.
I hope next time you will be a bit more conscientious when making casting decisions.
Meghan Bernstein, Park City