Where are all the Black ballerinas??

Like. Everywhere.

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When performing, or really even just being photographed, we all know professional dancers in most categories don’t wear much -if any- jewelry or large accessories. Or locs. Or tattoos. Or bantu knots. Especially not ballerinas. So for my latest illustration series, I wanted to bend the rules a bit and venture slightly outside the box. I was inspired to put a spin on ballet by this lovely photo taken by Joey Rosado [Island Boi Photography] of the very beautiful and talented Ingrid Silva along with the images within this post. Michaela DePrince‘s story of overcoming the harsh circumstances of her childhood as an orphan was heartbreaking but inspiring. I was also very moved by Kitty Phetla’s success story and watching her dance is painfully beautiful. So I did my best to capture the great strength it takes to be a Black ballerina.

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Dolores Brown

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Yolanda Jordan

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Lauren Anderson

I cannot lie, I did ballet for a hot hot HOT minute. And I was very young, but even then I knew perfecting it would take time and hard work. [So, instead, I tap danced for a year or so.] I love love love to dance, but ballet just wasn’t in me. A great level of discipline and passion for the art is imperative to be great and I respect all of these women for their tenacity and strength. I know it takes years of practice and patience, but they make it look so easy!

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Misty Copeland

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Aesha Ash

Ballerina Aesha Ash was recommended to leave the New York City Ballet. She had been told that she’d accomplished all she could as a Black dancer. After the decision to leave, Aesha joined Alonzo King’s LINES Ballet where she soared. Since, she’s been featured in Pointe Magazine, Dance Magazine, The New York Times, and The San Francisco Chronicle. She was also Zoe Saldana’s dance double in the film Center Stage.

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Aesha Ash

Dancers are pretty much magicians in my eyes.

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I can’t pay homage to them all in one series or blog post, but I did learn some new faces and names -past and present- spearheading ballet and dance theater:

Aesha Ash

Carmen de Lavallade

Ebony Williams

Adji Cissoko

Dolores Brown

Kitty Phetla

Brenda Dixon Gottschild

Alicia Graf Mack

Lauren Anderson

Michaela DePrince

Cira Robinson

Ashley Murphy

Jenelle Figgins

Samantha Figgins

Just to name a few.

Black women are magic.

donate to make Black Ballerina a thing | watch A Ballerina’s Tale

{all image cred: the internet}

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4 comments

  1. swo8 · November 13, 2015

    I wasn’t aware of this great ballerina. Lovely clip about her art and talent.
    Leslie

    Liked by 1 person

  2. nshami14 · November 14, 2015

    Strength, grace, beauty. Dance on btown ballerinas. Dance on.

    Liked by 1 person

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