Lloyd Freeman organized a “Daddy and Me” day at “The Nutcracker” for Black fathers and father figures.
Lloyd Freeman is bringing special guests to his annual holiday outing to see The Nutcracker at the Philadelphia Ballet — his two young children. And he wants other fathers to help him make it a tradition.
Freeman, who joined the ballet’s board of trustees in May, wants to expand its appeal to a more diverse audience. As a lawyer with.
So, Freeman, of Medford, came up with the idea of a “Daddy and Me” day at the ballet, and invited other fathers, especially Black men, to join him at a Dec. 11 matinee performance of George Balanchine’s Nutcracker. He expects at least 100 men — fathers and father figures — to show up with their children.
I would love to see more men of color start to support the arts,” Freeman said. “When I go, rarely do I see people who look like me.”
Freeman also has another mission: increase diversity among the dancers. He believes children will better relate to the performances if they better relate to the performers.
Founded in 1963, the philadelphia ballet is one of the country’s premier ballet companies. It currently has no principal Black dancers, largely mirroring the national scene. There are dancers from diverse backgrounds, from countries includingCuba, Brazil, Mexico, and Japan, said David Chambers, the ballet’s chief advancement officer.
“It’s fair to say that, historically, Black dancers have been underrepresented in the Philadelphia Ballet and across the country,” Chambers said. “We acknowledge that we have a lot of work to do.”
Jermel Johnson was the ballet’s only Black principal dancer until he retired in the spring after a 19-year career. Johnson started in the ballet’s second company and rose to the coveted position to become an audience favorite.