Change does not come by itself, we need to make it happen
for all of us
DEI for Dance=DEID
Message from the co-founder & DEI officer of sarAika movement collective Aika Takeshima
I have seen a wide range of dance companies that have started to work on diversity, inclusion and equity, but their focus is mostly on diversity, especially hiring POC and not on inclusion nor equity at the same level as other corporations have been working. As a certified DEI practitioner as well as the co-founder of a dance company in NYC, DEI work in dance industries is still a long way to go and I have realized that the usual corporate’s DEI strategy does not always fit the dance industries.
For example, we contemporary artists are more likely open to diverse gender/sexuality, culture, behavior, unique thoughts,etc in general. However, it suddenly becomes difficult when it comes to their creation. The environment that most of the NYC dance companies use is top-down style. Typically, the founder is also the choreographer who decides the company’s artistry. Depending on their artistic mission and preference, their DEI work can be easily limited. For example, if the company’s mission is to empower women, they might find it difficult to hire male dancers and even transgender female dancers. Another example is that their artistic preference can cause their unavailability in opening to listen to others suggestions.
Co-founder/director & DEI practitionerr of sarAika movement collective
Not only hiring a variety of people, creating an inclusive and equitable environment and giving the proper DEI value/method to all the company members and its community including the founder, choreographer, audience, and supporters is crucial.
If you don’t take all these actions (meaning, only focusing on increasing the number of people of color,) it will lead you to end up with piling dissatisfaction about unfair hiring from some dancers and also the audience/supporters.
The real DEI strategy should benefit everyone. Successful DEI work of major corporations have proved that the real DEI is working also for white male…yes, this is another difference between dance companies and other corporations; the majority of gender in dance is women, but it is men in most other corporations.
In conclusion, because of all these(and more) facts that show how unique the dance industry is, we can’t use the same DEI strategy that other corporations use.
As a dance company whose co-founder is their own certified DEI practitioner, we understand dance companies’ values: artistry, dancers’ performing skill and DEI.
That is why I am here to deliver the effective DEI strategy
for the dance industry.
And I named it DEI for Dance
The balance of your artistry and diverse professionals - it is challenging, but not impossible and it will be an innovative creation if you find the proper strategy and keep taking action.
3 Key elements to ask ourselves/ our professionals/collaborators to achieve our DEI goals:
DEI unlocks innovation and builds sarAika where we all can feel respected, safe to be authentic ourselves, belonging and contributing.
sarAika movement collective is a contemporary/conceptual dance collective based in New York since 2021, funded by Aika Takeshima and Sara Pizzi, who are immigrants, women, POC, multidisciplinary artists, dancer-choreographers, activist and LGBTQIA+ supporters and representatives.
sarAika (standing for sarAika movement collective) is dedicated to making art about and for humans creating awareness and reflection on actual social issues and self-consciousness, breaking the concept of standard performance creating collaborative, conceptual, interactive art experiences.
sarAika strongly believes in the power of art. It raises individual self confidence, leading to the understanding of diversity, opening the doors to eliminate prejudice and discrimination. No matter one’s career, their being – emotions, conscious and unconscious thoughts, and life experience – are expressed through art, which we capture to bring a wider perspective to the world.
Make art about and for humans, facilitating their process of finding more freedom and possibilities in themselves, through our movements, words, and passion.
Thus, opening space to allow everyone to be authentic to themself,
bringing comfort in togetherness, to ultimately grow the strength and bond our community.
Taking in consideration the founding value of sarAika movement collective, we are a collaborative dance company which makes art about and for humans, that is able to create unexpected creative work, a diverse workforce & inclusive, equitable work environment, which we consider fundamental for the growth and longevity of our workflow. In addition, as representatives of underrepresented communities such as LGBTQIA+, immigrants, POC, and women, ensuring our professionals and all of our communities are respected, feel safe and belong are essential.
sarAika’s DEI for Dance strategy goal:
Our DEI for Dance strategy is how we activate everyone’s curiosity and trust in each other and bring a more diverse, inclusive, and equitable culture to life every day.
sarAika appreciate each one’s differences and commit to make an environment where everyone respects each other’s differences, trusts in ourselves as a team, feel safe to be authentic themselves, belonging, and their voice is heard.
When everyone can feel so, we can perform our best.
(Adapting The People Company DEI Implementation Framework, 2022 by Deborah Biddle.)
DEI for Dance STRATEGIC PLAN
Building an inclusive, respectful collaborative and professional company culture through
-Implement DEI value to our contracts
-DEI training to our professionals (as representatives, teachers & members)
-Make tailored summary of our DEI training to share to all our collaborators
-Pulse survey to our professionals
-Feedback survey to collaborators
-Examine format and terminology of all sarAika’s documents & company protocols
Addressing diversity gaps in our workforce/collaborators pipeline through
-Proactive attendance to various community events, teaching and performing in various community/area
-Build our methodology classes regularly where emerging dancers can learn the skills to be a professional dancer level
-Creation of community event/residency in the support of local companies/schools
Making an impact to communities of dance facilities in New York City with our DEI method specialized in dance industry through
-Interviewing with them about their DEI environment
-Create platforms to discuss DEI such as “What is DEI and the struggle in the dance industry?”
Taking into account the numbers of our workforce in 2021 and 2022(until August), we acknowledge, the successful strategy to pursue as soon as possible to guarantee the improvement of our company is making a more diverse and inclusive environment to allow our professionals, collaborators and students to expand and improve their ability and skills. Especially we need to work on seeking a more diverse workforce. In addition to that, although we are a group of artists who emphasize on our own identity, we have found it is fundamental and helpful to gain more awareness and skills to work with a more diverse group of artists bringing their best selves to unleash their best for more creative art works.
Where/Why sarAika needs DEI:
- Improve the communication between creators, collaborators and audience
- Make sure that our documents and protocols respect the integrity of each individual, updating our knowledge and terminology in order to meet the needs of each community and avoid terminology or pre-concepts that are based on bias or un-updated information
- Amplify the accessibility of our work to a bigger community (as for audience, to future artists part of our team and students)
- Maximize the ability of sarAika to create, provide and offer an ideal inclusive place that meets the needs of the majority of ethnicity, communities and beliefs.
- Maximize the ability of sarAika to keep creating more innovative art works.
How do we tell our DEI message?
- To Audience/clients(=curators, directors, schools, students, collaborators, supporters)
-Social media branding, website, news letter, flyers, promotion
- To Applicants
-Social media branding, website, hiring ads, event pages
- Our professionals
-Pulse survey, daily behavior, learning & growing together
What do we tell them about DEI?
- sarAika’s DEI value
- Current state, sarAika’s Goal of DEI
- Sharing our DEI methods or tips
- Promotion in the context of event/training/ regarding DEI
DEI for Dance TRAINING
- Unconscious bias training & awareness to all of our dancers
Translation of the point expressed above, from frontal-verbal training into movements. Identify the strongest Bias in our group. (ex. What are biases in the artist community? Execution of a bias test through movement and communication in order to identify the most common bias as artists and the most persistent bias in our group (ex. language make impact not selecting into a team work)
- Inclusive leadership to all of our dancers
(as a teacher, representative of sarAika, members)
- Summary of DEI training to our collaborator
Our process of DEI
- annual / bi-annual survey and pulse survey(after each performance/event) to workers and collaborators
(ex. by Demographic, How is your leader’s leadership? Could you share your opinions enough and were those heard enough? Did your leader and co-workers respect you? etc…)
- Demographics of dancers and collaborators
- Demographics of clients,donors,audience,commentators, engagement,students, directors, curators and communities we interact with.
- Create Diversity score cards and Checklist
- The number of publicity about our DEI(social media, news letter, poster, etc)
What we have worked on so far
1. Setting a certified DEI officer in our company
The People Company Inclusion Institute™ Certified Diversity Practitioner (recognized by SHRM to offer Professional Development Credits (PDCs) for SHRM-CP® or SHRM-SCP®)
2. Making event feedback survey focused on our DEI environment
We made this survey and have asked all the collaborators who worked with us since the NYC PRIDE MARCH 2022
3. Self-Identification to demographic survey
sarAika launched the voluntary Self-Identification to recognize, appreciate and celebrate the diversity of our collaborators. By sharing various aspects of their identities—born/raised country, multi-racial identities, disability, sexual orientation,gender identity,etc—our collaborators are helping sarAika understand our progress in creating a diverse and inclusive workplace, ensure accountability, and identify opportunities for continuous improvement.
What we are going to do for the next steps
1. Renew contracts/protocols for the next year
Implement DEI value to our contracts, Examine format and terminology of all sarAika’s documents & company protocols
2. Make DEI for Dance seminars
DEI foundation, unconscious bias training, Inclusive leadership training specialized for dance industries
3. Proactive attendance to more diverse community events
to be able to get to know more diverse culture and artists in each other
After the analysis and study of all sarAika’s achievements, vision and future goals, we arrived to the conclusion of although the categories of improvements are still considerably high compared with the baseline (such as making a protocol and building business), sarAika’s willingness of improvements using DEI consulting approach and the openness to innovating programs, these factors are the right propositive element to define an environment full of flexibility and potential that will lead the company to accomplish a successful growth.
By listening to one another, challenging what’s possible, and living our values of Respect for All People, Continuous Improvement, and Act for Others, we will continue to make our workplace, communities, and world better for all.
Every day we commit ourselves to continuous improvement.
We know DEI is a journey, not a destination.