Sharing the struggles and celebrating the triumphs of being African American in the ballet world and beyond.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

You Are Not Alone

Source unkown
This week I wanted to post something more lighthearted as a counter balance to the weightier issues discussed each week. However, as I read through viewer responses to past blogs, some sharing moments of adversity and others expressing resignation to the harsher realities of ballet, I realized that recounting an amusing anecdote from my touring days, or discussing how my late blooming love of chocolate formed in Switzerland, would be woefully inadequate. Having so often felt isolated and alone throughout my career, I want this blog to connect people who feel they have no voice, and struggle silently. I want this blog to be a forum to express ideas, challenge outmoded notions, spark
discussion, broaden perspectives and yes, vent!

When I came across the above image online, it resonated with me on a deeply personal level. As a child I would silently stare out my bedroom window wondering if I would ever be the royal, ethereal, angelic ballerina of my dreams, or just another stereotype chasing a pipe dream. In sharing this wonderfully powerful image I want to declare to all young artists, who often feel marginalized and left behind, you are more powerful than you know—you are not alone!


  1. "This week I wanted to post something more lighthearted as a counter balance to the weightier issues discussed each week." - While it is good to explore roadblocks and challenges in this world, lighthearted is essential as well. You definately don't want each post to be as they say, "A Debby Downer". HA HA.

    I would like to read about some of the joyous and wonderful dance and travel experiences that you had. Post performance and travel photos. Fun stuff. Stuff that shows that you made the right decision in choosing ballet. How did ballet better you as a person and better your life?

    You should write your ballet biography. I can't recall seeing any ballet biographies by African American women and by being with NYCB and being in the workout DVD and the Center Stage movie and all, you would have quite a good story. I think that it could inspire children who normally wouldn't consider ballet.

    "Having so often felt isolated and alone throughout my career," - This leads me to a question, if you care to answer. How many friends did you make throughout your career?

    I don't tend to make friends among my coworkers because I don't care to talk about computers and engineering 24 / 7. I like doing it as a job and even spend some of my free time studying it. But during my lunch hour or happy hours, I don't care to be sedentary while talking about IPads, IPhone Apps and video games. Thus, there is an equal amount of social ignoring from me to my coworkers and my coworkers to me. The only coworkers that I talk to frequently are the few who I see in the gym or who are runners or who like to unwind by stepping away from the geek stuff. But I make most of my friends just from various mixes of people I meet while I am out and about.

  2. Thank you for continuing to engage my blog and share your thoughts and feelings. I think it is important for you to understand that the purpose of this blog is to share my unique experiences as an African American ballerina in a very orthodox and traditional genre. Though I deeply love ballet and have many wonderful memories and lifelong friendships, I also experienced feelings of anxiety, isolation and at times depression from an environment wherein I often felt like the voiceless “other.” There are many ballerinas who feel closed in and shut out—this is a forum to express to these dancers that they are not alone. This is also a forum to challenge antiquated aesthetic notions and socio-economic barriers that marginalize dancers of color. These impediments have nothing to do with technical proficiency or commitment—they simply exclude and tear down one’s self-image. I would love to talk about European tours, the wonders of fanfare, and backstage hijinks. However, I am seeking to inspire and console those walking a very lonely road that I know all too personally. In doing so, I also hope to heal, inspire and motivate myself to become a proactive change agent. I hope that you will be inspired to make the wonderful art of ballet more inclusive, embracing and compassionate so that there will be less “Debbie Downers” in the world, and more beautiful black swans! Thank you for sharing and be well!