By Phil Chan
After the horrific shooting in Atlanta in 2021 that claimed the lives of six Asian women, it felt like the entire dance community turned to my co-founder Georgina Pazcoguin and I for leadership. What’s the hashtag? What’s the action item? This is not a role we expected to play when we founded Final Bow for Yellowface, which since 2017 has helped eliminate Asian caricatures on the global ballet stage. But looking around at the rest of the landscape, we realized we were “The Asians”— and woefully unprepared to deal with the largest needs of a confused, angry, and grieving community.
In response, we gathered AAPI leaders across the dance field and built up a Board of Directors for the Gold Standard Arts Foundation, a service organization dedicated to supporting AAPI creatives in the field. Our mission includes providing professional development and networking opportunities, data collection, and advocacy.
While many ballet companies continued to present Orientalist depictions in their repertory, we challenged them to commission actual Asian choreographers. The fruits of this work will be on display at ballet companies around the country, culminating in the 10,000 Dreams festival at the Kennedy Center in June 2024, which brings together four major American ballet companies to present a week of AAPI choreography.
In many ways, our work is still in its infancy. If you’re interested in learning more about us or joining our cause, please visit us at www.goldstandardarts.org.
Phil Chan is a co-founder of Final Bow for Yellowface and the President of the Gold Standard Arts Foundation. He is currently a fellow at the Harvard University, Drexel University, the Institut National d’histoire de l’art in France, Dance/USA, and Jacob’s Pillow. He is a graduate of Carleton College and an alumnus of The Ailey School, and was just named a “Next 50” Arts Leader by the Kennedy Center.
He is the author of two books, “Final Bow for Yellowface: Dancing between Intention and Impact,” and “Banishing Orientalism,” and as a writer has served as the executive editor for FLATT Magazine and contributed to Dance Europe Magazine, Dance Magazine, Dance Business Weekly, and the Huffington Post. Upcoming projects include directing “Madama Butterfly” for Boston Lyric Opera in September 2023, staging a reimagined “La Bayadere” for Indiana University in March 2024, as well as producing ballet festivals at the Northrop and the Kennedy Center highlighting AAPI choreography.