Ballet is a notoriously white art form. Black dancers, choreographers and executives are few. That’s why the news of Janet Rollé being appointed CEO and Executive Director at American Ballet Theatre is so monumental.
Rollé is the first Black woman to lead ABT, and the historical significance is not lost on her. The position is effective Jan. 3.
“When my dear Mom, an immigrant from Jamaica, took me to my first dance class at the age of eight at the YMCA in Mount Vernon, New York, she set me on the path that would provide the foundation of my career. Through dance, I learned how to be a professional, the value of discipline and technique, and my love for the creative process,” Rollé said in a statement.
“These lessons have always been at the core of my professional life and work. 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,” Rollé continued. “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.”
The announcement was made by Andrew Barth, Chairman of the Board of Governing Trustees at American Ballet Theatre.
“After a thorough search, Janet emerged as the right leader to usher in ABT’s next chapter,” said Barth. “Her extensive experience as a business leader and marketing strategist, combined with her life-long passion for dance, perfectly positions her to lead our organization.
“She is brimming with ideas to lead ABT into the next decade, all while respecting Ballet Theatre’s history and legacy,” Barth continued. “I am confident that Janet’s accomplished background in business operations and development, strategic partnerships, and brand management will be a tremendous asset.”
Before heading to ABT, Rollé was General Manager at Parkwood Entertainment, the company founded by Beyoncé. In fact, she was an associate producer on Beyoncé’s Coachella performance, as well as Homecoming: A Film By Beyoncé, the OTR II Tour and executive producer on Black is King.
If she didn’t have anything else on her resume, that would be enough for us, but this amazing artist has also been an executive at CNN Worldwide and BET Networks.
“I am honored to welcome Janet on board to lead ABT into the future,” said Kevin McKenzie, ABT Artistic Director. “Over the past several years, our Company has renewed its commitment to strengthening the foundation of what ABT has always stood for – artistic excellence, expanding audience engagement and growth, and cultivating a team of teachers, innovators, and visionaries who will represent ABT for generations to come. Janet’s experience as an executive, with a background in dance, as well as her management of the multi-layered business of one of the most successful recording artists in history, bodes well for ABT’s continued success.”