Valuing Diversity in Art, by Maurya Kerr

From the LINES website: “The Discovery Project addresses ways to use dance to bridge gaps created by diversity of experience, perspective, culture, and socioeconomic background.”

I love that as a faculty we are able to bridge some of those gaps in large part because we ourselves are a diverse alliance of personhood and experience. Most of the Education Program teachers are either of color and/or female and/or LGBT, and beautifully heterogeneous in terms of dance background, body shape, and artistic interest.

But one of my favorite parts of Discovery Project is being part of a literal coalition of color coming in to catalyze a dance community.

I have done several DPs where the entire teaching faculty is of color — that is so incredibly powerful. One cannot underestimate the power of young people seeing themselves modeled at the front of the room, perhaps for the first time, perhaps taking their first ballet class from a black or Chinese instructor.


An iconic photo of Obama’s presidency shows him in the Oval Office, bending down to let a young black boy touch his hair. You can feel the revelatory and life-changing resonance for that young mind and soul of “his hair is just like mine… he’s just like me.”

Humans, young and old, sometimes need living templates to allow ourselves the permission of imagination, of full potential: seeing you allows me to dream myself.

I know I don’t need to prove to anyone reading this that studies show that exposure to diversity (of race, gender, experience, culture, religion, class, sexuality, disability, etc…) provokes creativity, encourages collaboration, changes perceptions of possibility, and dismantles stereotypes. Mutual curiosity, empathy, and generosity have always been vital, but even more so now given that our nation’s incoming white, straight, CIS-gendered male political regime has made it clear that Black Lives Matter is an increasingly far-fetched utopian credo.

I am proud that the LINES Education Programs are known as havens for otherness.

You’ve been told you’ll never dance because you’re “too” black and/or short and/or tall and/or fat and/or gay… too different? Come. Your black life, your brown life, your female life, your queer life, your ___ life matters deeply to me, to us. We are truly privileged to be able to imagine, unearth, and nurture your promise with you.

Maurya Kerr


Join us for our final Discovery Project this year!

So far Discovery Project has had the opportunity to hold workshops in San Francisco and Kansas City, MO this year. Our final weekend of intensives will be at Tampa, Fl, Jan 19-22.

Apply for our final Discovery Project in Tampa

Learn more about the program:

62bf2d8ed58f490352ef44ac88b6affdMaurya Kerr

Faculty member of LINES Discovery Project, Summer Program, BFA Program and Training Program

Maurya Kerr danced with Alonzo King LINES Ballet from 1994-2006. She is on faculty with the LINES Ballet Education Programs and conducts residencies nationally as a visiting guest artist with BODYTRAFFIC, Hollins University, University of Minnesota, Pacific Northwest Ballet, and The School at Jacob’s Pillow. Maurya is the director and choreographer of tinypistol. tinypistol has received numerous grants and awards including a 2011 Hubbard Street National Choreographic Competition award, a 2012 CHIME grant, a University of Minnesota 2014/15 Cowles Visiting Artist grant, and selection to Whim W’Him’s 2015 Choreographic Shindig. Maurya’s work has been commissioned and presented by Axis Dance Company, Ballet Nouveau Colorado, WestWave Dance Festival, The San Francisco International Arts Festival, and the Black Choreographers Festival, among others. She is currently an ODC artist-in-residence.

Cover photo by Tammy Cheney; photos in order by Rob Kunkle/Good Lux Photography, Laura Turner and Maurya Kerr