Unfortunately, it doesn't sound like 'mutual agreement' at all according to a recent article in the Guardian.
http://www.guardian.co.uk/stage/2008/se ... s.equality
Apparently the Board wanted the company to go back to it's black roots. Which apparently means losing out on an acclaimed director, working with Christopher Wheeldon and a Paul Taylor revival. These are opportunities most companies would love to have and wouldn't think of letting slip away! (I doubt the latter two opportunities are likely to be on the table without deFrutos since he was heavily involved in the revival and Wheeldon isn't likely to have time to reschedule or even want to work with another director.)
I don't know much about Phoenix, but quotas of any type worry me. Certainly we should always be working towards diversity in dance, but I don't think the UK is a place that can support much in the way of all black modern dance or ballet troupes. A quick glance at stats (from Wikipedia which could be inaccurate and is from 2001), only 2% of the population of the UK identifies themselves as black, black-carribean or black-african. Which means that if one was to create a company that reflected strictly the overall diversity, only 1 in 50 dancers should self identify as black. You might well allow more in more racially diverse areas such as London or other large cities. Based strictly on stats, people of South-Asian/Indian descent could be said to be much more under-represented. (In the US, I agree that statistically African/Carribean Americans are well under-represented). And even in the 'caucasian world' there are whole countries which struggle to produce enough dancers for one ballet company or modern dance troupe - think Denmark (I think the RDB now has more non-Danish men than Danish men), Scotland, Wales, etc etc.
I find the one current (the first) response interesting. Yes, there certainly is a long and rich history of dance in Africa and the Carribean, but it wasn't ballet (recent Cuba excepted) or contemporary dance per se. So perhaps the answer is not to struggle to keep up a black contemporary dance company, but invest in companies that start out with African dance as a basis and move on from there. But not to think black - even Alvin Ailey DT and DT of Harlem in the US embrace diversity and are the better for it. If people of African descent (which DOES include some Caucasiod people) are to be encouraged to take up ballet, why should those of European descent be encouraged to take up African dance. Dance should be based on talent, not skin pigmentation. So diversity should come from increased opportunity at the training level, not hiring choices.
I would think that the way to increase diversity is to start from the bottom - you have to have a certain quality of dancers and that takes training. So you need to overcome the barriers - money/finance, anti-dance sentiments among peers etc. If you want young people to dance - whatever their ethnicity/race - they need to have places to learn, funds for classes, clothes and transport and a community that supports their choice. With those in mind, perhaps the best way to promote dance is to work to reduce poverty and open minds. And there doesn't seem to be any easy answer for either the problem of closed minds or poverty. For now, I think the dance world's best answer is to give youth of ALL ethnicities as much exposure to dance as possible and to be generous with scholarships to help support people who can't afford training.
As an aside, I would think the board could fast find themselves in trouble if they fire and hire to make a company 'blacker'. That's got to violate anti-discrimination laws, which certainly must apply if they are to get any public money or grants for corporations/foundations that have anti-discrimination clauses (most these days).