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

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

With Gratitude

Photo by Paul Van Hoy II
Each week I try to use this forum to share my struggles and triumphs in an effort to inspire young dancers who have felt marginalized and voiceless. Many dancers, particularly those of color, fight an internal battle over self image, self worth and their place in the art they love so much. They bear their struggles with a smile, a beautifully painted face, and flawless performances—but there often lays deep reservoirs of pain and reservation just beneath the wonderful surface. I want to encourage these dancers to keep on fighting, believing in themselves, and making beautiful art. I want to say never be discouraged, and never allow the whispers of self-doubt or unkind words of those around you to destroy the spirit that makes you dance. There is a place for you, and through faith, resolve and encouragement, you will become the beautiful swan you aspire to be!

Photo by Paul Van Hoy II

It was important for me to take the time and say just how grateful I am to all the individuals who inspired me throughout my career. These individuals gave me encouragement when I felt different, insecure, out of my element and far away from home. I thank the friends and confidants for the patience, love and emotional support they loyally provided. I thank the strangers who filled my inbox with messages of admiration, as well as those who stopped me on the street to exchange a kind word. I thank the children who filled my heart with gratitude as they lined up after performances to request pointe shoes, and my family for constant support and grounding. And despite the tears and hardships, I thank ballet, which opened up an otherwise unachievable world and gave me a form of expression that leaps from my very soul, and brings joy to those with whom I am fortunate enough to share my passion.

Photo by Paul Van Hoy II

It is my honest hope that the candid manner in which I share so many of my pains and joys will inspire others to make the wonderful art of ballet more inclusive and compassionate, so that there will be more beautiful swans of every color!

Photo by Paul Van Hoy II
 The Cost of Pursuing a Dream cont...

Last week I wrote a post regarding the difficulties that many lower income families have in pursuing ballet as an option for their youngsters. I spoke of City of Angels Ballet, whose director Mario Nugara has not only recognized this problem, but has made a personal effort to resolve this issue in his home of Los Angeles. Recently I was sent this video by Joey Rodgers, founder and Artistic Director of Dancing in the Streets, Arizona. Mr. Rodgers is yet another individual working towards resolving the issue that many face when it comes to the financial difficulties in involving a child in ballet.

I am so thankful to these individuals who are making such a huge impact in the lives of these children, their families and communities. If you know of any other organizations such as these, please send them my way! The more we know about efforts such as these being made, the more opportunity there is for inspiring another individual to maybe make a small effort of their own.

Ballet is a glorious and powerful outlet and should be made available to all who are captivated by its majesty.

1 comment:

  1. I love your blog, I am a mother of a five year old who wants to dance Ballet. I found it very difficult to find an African American teacher. My daughter goes to school in Harlem NY and we live in the Bronx. If there is any one who knows of an African American ballet teacher in New York City please let me know. Thank you.