“BEYOND YELLOWFACE will impact dancers for generations to come.”
— Sarah Wroth, chair of Indiana University’s Ballet Department
Racial stereotypes abound in beloved ballets—hiding in plain sight in a centuries-old art form. In this day and age, do these offensive roles hobble ballet’s efforts to appeal to modern audiences?
This documentary follows Phil Chan and Georgina Pazcoguin, NYC dancers of Asian descent and co-founders of the Final Bow for Yellowface movement. They are challenging the world’s leading ballet companies to jettison Asian stereotypes, including dancing in yellowface.
It’s not easy. The pair is battling entrenched tradition and political pushback as they shine a critical spotlight on The Nutcracker and other beloved classics in this vivid account of cultural missteps and creative evolution.
We've begun filming Georgina and Phil and went behind-the-scenes with the Scottish Ballet as it reworked The Nutcracker.
But there is so much more to this story.
We'd like to explore not only what was, but what's next. We will follow Phil as he reimagines the classic ballet La Bayadère. We will highlight the pair's collaboration with Asian choreographers and dancers.
A 1950s version of The Nutcracker.
Hear from the filmmakers as they talk with Phil Chan, co-founder of Final Bow for Yellowface movement, about ridding ballet of offensive racial stereotypes.
Learn what "yellowface" is all about and why Chan and Georgina Pazcoguin are shaking up the ballet world.
Click on the Vimeo recording to the right.
Phil Chan, co-founder of Final Bow for Yellowface movement, joined the filmmakers on Sept. 14, 2022 for a lively conversation about the documentary and "yellowface" in ballet, opera and theater.
Please consider making a contribution so we can keep the momentum going.
On location at Princeton University
"The sharp rise in reports of anti-Asian hate crimes during the pandemic, as well as recent focus on the legacy of discrimination in dance, opera and classical music, have brought fresh urgency to the effort."
— Javier C. Hernández, New York Times
Phil & Gina
Phil Chan is a choreographer, educator and dance producer. He wrote Final Bow For Yellowface: Dancing Between Intention and Impact and Banishing Orientalism: Dancing Between Exotic and Familiar. He is currently reimagining the ballet La Bayadère and the opera Madama Butterfly, and choreographed a new version of the 18th-century Ballet des Porcelaines.
Georgina Pazcoguin is a soloist for the New York City Ballet and author of a memoir, Swan Dive: The Making of a Rogue Ballerina. At the NYCB, she was the first Asian American dancer to be promoted from the ranks of the corps de ballet to soloist. Her dance credits include featured roles on Broadway in Cats and On the Town and the world premiere of Sweet Gwen Suite featuring Gwen Verdon/Bob Fosse choreography.
Final Bow for Yellowface Pledge
“I love ballet as an art form, and acknowledge that to achieve diversity among our artists, audiences, donors, volunteers, students, and staff requires inclusion. I am committed to eliminating outdated and offensive stereotypes of Asians (Yellowface) on our stages.”
— Phil Chan and Georgina Pazcoguin launched the "Final Bow for Yellowface" campaign in 2018
Jennifer Lin, director/producer, co-directed the documentary Beethoven in Beijing about the Philadelphia Orchestra’s China legacy, which premiered nationally on PBS’s Great Performances. Lin was a reporter for The Philadelphia Inquirer, including postings in Beijing, New York City and Washington, D.C. She has written a family memoir, Shanghai Faithful, and an oral history of the Philadelphia Orchestra’s historic 1973 tour of China.
Jon Funabiki, producer, advocates for media equity following a career spanning journalism, teaching and philanthropy. Funabiki covered Asia for The San Diego Union before joining The Ford Foundation as deputy director of Media, Arts and Culture. He later was a professor of journalism at San Francisco State University and founded Renaissance Journalism, which sponsors social justice journalism initiatives.
Cory Stieg, consulting producer, studied dance at New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts. She writes extensively about dance for such publications as Dance Magazine, Dance Teacher, and Pointe. She interviewed dancers from American Ballet Theatre and New York City Ballet for the photography book, The Art of Movement (Black Dog & Leventhal, 2016).
Georgina Pazcoguin performing Gwen Verdon/Bob Fosse at Fire Island Dance Festival
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The Center for Independent Documentary is the nonprofit fiscal agent for BEYOND YELLOWFACE.
“While all the act II variations in Nutcracker are caricatures and based on stereotypes to varying degrees, I found the ‘Chinese’ one insulting.”
— Adam Sklute, artistic director Ballet West