Black History Month

In honour of Black History Month, we have compiled a list of resources which highlight voices of Black dancers and community leaders, and celebrate the experiences of Black artists who have played essential roles in shaping both the field of dance and the legacy of Ballet BC.

Join the conversation! Do you have a suggestion or something to add to this list? We invite you to share it here.


It’s About Time, curated by dance artist and scholar Seika Boye, opened its fifth presentation at the SFU Galleries in October 2022. An online archive of the exhibition, along with conversations and new creative responses from artists, is available to the public here.

As part of a series of 2020 panel conversations called This Is The Reset, moderator Kevin Ormsby sits down with Seika Boye and dancer Rachael McLaren to discuss the question: “How do we make dance, and Canadian dance institutions, safer for Black, Indigenous and POC artists?” Listen here.

Learn about 15 Black dancers who significantly impacted American dance, achieving incredible accomplishments in their lifetime and leaving a lasting legacy.

Watch an interview with former Ballet BC Artistic Director John Alleyne, part of the Amani Project which aims to share intergenerational wisdom among African Diasporic artists and educators while creating an enduring archive of their contributions to the cultural fabric of the world.  

Explore the archives of Dance Collection Danse, a Toronto-based organization dedicated to preserving Canada’s dance heritage and sharing it internationally through programming.

Discover how Arthur Mitchell, the first Black principal dancer of New York City Ballet, was inspired by the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. to provide the children of Harlem with the opportunity to study dance, establishing the Dance Theatre of Harlem.

Learn about dance Immersion, a Toronto-based non-profit organization established by Vivine Scarlett in 1994 to produce, promote, and support dancers and dances of the African Diaspora. In January 2023, former Ballet BC Artistic Director John Alleyne received the Dunham/Primus International Acclaim Legendary Artist Award at dance Immersion’s 33rd Annual International Conference of Blacks in Dance.

Read a brief overview of Black history through the lens of dance in America by the African American Registry exploring the origins of Black dance, dance during enslavement, and iconic Black dancers who have paved the way for others.

No Boundaries started as an evolving repertoire of solos choreographed by leading contemporary African American choreographers that Gesel Mason performed in one evening. Now it is an online exhibition and digital humanities archive, an innovative platform to disseminate, access, and interact with the legacies of African American choreographers.

Watch TESSEL, an initiative conceptualized by Dora-nominated choreographer and dancemaker Esie Mensah featuring the stories of 14 Black artists from across Canada including Ballet BC dancer Livona Ellis and exploring the complexities of diverse movement and voice as a form of resilience.​

Explore a self-published booklet of essays from contributors to the 2015 – 2017 symposiums titled ‘Configurations in Motion: Performance Curation and Communities of Colour,’ where Canadian and American artists and scholars gathered and share work for and by Black, Indigenous, and communities of colour.

Learn more about the Black history of British Columbia with this timeline of important moments and events since the Abolition of the Slavery Act.



Black Performance Theory | Various Authors (2014) 

In This Together: Blackness, Indigeneity and Hip Hop | Audrey Hudson, Awad Ibrahim, Karyn Recollet (2019)

A Little Devil In America: Notes In Praise Of Black Performance | Hanif Abdurraqib (2021)

Urban Bush Women: Twenty Years of African American Dance Theater, Community Engagement, and Working It Out | Nadine George-Graves (2010)

Katherine Dunham: Dance and the African Diaspora  | Joanna Dee Das (2017)

Dancing In Blackness: A Memoir  | Halifu Osumare (2018)

A list of must-reads curated by activist, poet and journalist EI Jones for Vancouver-based independent bookstore Iron Dog Books.

We encourage supporting Massy Books or Iron Dog Books in Vancouver.



Join the BC Black History Awareness Society and the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives–BC Office on February 16 for Out of the Sun: On Black History and Storytelling, an evening of music and conversation with award-winning novelist Esi Edugyan.

On February 25th, the Chan Centre at UBC presents an exhilarating exploration into Black Futures through the visionary work of artists Saul Williams, Moor Mother, and Irreversible Entanglements

VIFF Centre presents a month of programming featuring Black film, Black film artists, Black thinkers, and activists.

On show at the Polygon Gallery from February 24 is As We Rise: Photography from the Black Atlantic, a featured exhibition from Capture Photography Festival showing works from Canada’s largest privately owned collection committed to championing Black artists.

Broken Chord by renowned South African choreographer and performer Gregory Maqoma and musical director Thuthuka Sibisi comments on urgent issues of migration, dispossession, borders, and colonization through the story of The African Native Choir in the 1890s.

Visit the Vancouver Black Library during opening hours, located on the basement floor of the Sun Wah Centre at 072-268 Keefer.

Commitment to Anti-Racism

Read Ballet BC’s Commitment to Anti-Racism here.


Header image: Katherine Dunham in a photograph from around 1945. Getty Images.