Photo Credit: Contributed by beyondyellowface.com
Doylestown Filmmaker Probes Ballet and Race in New Documentary Project
For all of its beauty and image of perfection, the world of classical ballet has some ugliness when it comes to race—not only the dearth of dancers and choreographers of color in elite ranks, but also the way Asians are portrayed in some beloved ballets.
BEYOND YELLOWFACE is a new documentary underway by Doylestown filmmaker Jennifer Lin. The film spotlights the work of a pair of prominent NYC dancers of Asian descent, Phil Chan and Georgina Pazcoguin, who are challenging the dance world to jettison offensive stereotypes in classical ballet stories, while also trying to make ballet more welcoming to dancers of color.
“Yellowface is similar to blackface,” Lin explains. “Believe it or not, even in this day and age, some top-tier ballet companies around the world still have dancers performing in yellowface and blackface.”
The producers, including Lin, Jon Funabiki and Cory Stieg, have hosted a virtual event to give people a look behind the scenes of this work-in-progress. The creative team hosted a Zoom conversation with Chan on Sept. 14 at 8:30 p.m. ET, where registrants could access in depth information on process and more.
Chan and Pazcoguin started the Final Bow for Yellowface movement five years ago, which asks dancers and artistic directors to pledge to rid ballet of yellowface. Despite some pushback, more than a thousand professionals have signed the pledge, including many of the top ballet companies in the U.S. and Europe. “Some of the most beloved ballets—like The Nutcracker and La Bayadere—perpetuate really horrible racial stereotypes,” Lin says. “With the rise in anti-Asian violence, how Asians and other people of color are presented on our stages is an important matter to address now.” To learn more about the film and the creative team or contribute, visit: https://www.beyondyellowface.com