Talked About the Importance of Diversity in the Dance World

Saldana spoke to a moment of disheartenment she had at the beginning of her career, when she realized there weren’t other dancers who looked like her in a company.

“Representation matters when you’re a child,” Saldana said. “How are you going to believe that you can be a president, you can save the world, you can find a cure for cancer, if you don’t see accurate depictions of yourself in these roles that are necessary, that are important, that are giant-like forms?”

She still carries the heartbreak from her early dance days, but she’s encouraged that there are conversations happening in circles that are “more inclusive,” and hopes more people will join the dialogue because “that’s what’s going to bring change.”

Break out your pointe shoes because the cast of Center Stage is finally back together again. The dancers of the fictional American Ballet Academy reunited earlier this summer for a good cause – to raise money for the real-life American Ballet Theatre. In a video published on Sept. 1, Sascha Radetsky (Charlie Sims), Zoe Saldana (Eva Rodríguez), Amanda Schull (Jody Sawyer), and Ethan Stiefel (Cooper Nielson) sat down virtually with CNN’s Poppy Harlow to talk about their favorite moments from the 2000 film and to examine what the dance world looks like today.

As the country continues to face a racial justice reckoning, Harlow referenced a conversation she had with acclaimed ballerina Misty Copeland and asked the cast to talk about the dearth of diversity in ballet right now. Copeland had said, “The ballet world does not really celebrate women of color,” and Schull said, “She’s right. .. Misty’s absolutely correct. It’s something that’s got to be changed.”

Saldana related this ongoing conversation to Jody’s monologue at the end of Center Stage, where she decides to embrace her individuality instead of trying to blend in with the company. “That is a universal theme that every parent tells every child, regardless of their gender, or their color, or their race, or their creed,” Saldana said. “That is what I always held onto.” Watch the full reunion above, and catch up on this important conversation starting at the 23:55 mark.

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