Janet Rollé, formerly the general manager of Beyoncé’s Parkwood Entertainment for five years, will be the new CEO and executive director of the American Ballet Theatre. Her role goes into effect January 3, 2022, and her hiring marks the first time a person of color has led the company.
Rollé credited her mother, an immigrant from Jamaica, for forming the foundation of her career, by taking her to her first dance class at the age of 8.
She continued, “It is therefore a singular privilege to be entrusted by the Board to preserve and extend the legacy of American Ballet Theatre, and to ensure its future prosperity, cultural impact, and relevance. To come full circle and be in a position to give back to the art that has given me so much is a source of unbridled and immense joy.”
Rollé also previously served as executive vice president and chief marketing officer at CNN Worldwide.
Andrew Barth, chairman of the company’s Board of Governing Trustees, said Rollé is perfectly positioned to lead ABT, given her dance background and experience as an executive.
“She is brimming with ideas to lead ABT into the next decade, all while respecting Ballet Theatre’s history and legacy,” Barth said in a statement. “I am confident that Janet’s accomplished background in business operations and development, strategic partnerships, and brand management will be a tremendous asset.”
“At 7 years old being a black girl in their school, and they’re being told by their teachers ‘You don’t belong here, your skin is the wrong color, your feet are too flat … we can’t work with your hair,'” Copeland said.
“I have heard over and over the damaging stereotypes that Black dancers aren’t flexible enough or don’t have the right feet, or that Asian dancers aren’t expressive enough,” Gomes wrote. “Ballet is still designed for White dancers, down to the shoes and makeup we wear. Nude-colored ballet shoes for Black dancers didn’t exist until 2018.”