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

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

BALLET: A Love Affair

From the moment I laid eyes on a pointe shoe, my curiosity took hold of me and I just knew that I had to dig deeper into this world of ballet and discover its majesty.

From tutus to tiaras, there are so many things about the imagery and majesty of ballet that captured my young adolescent heart. However, as I matured I started falling in love with the challenges that ballet posed. I found pleasure in mastering variations, pointe work and the complexities of partnering. Ballet at once occupied a space of great effort and magic. Ballet is where my passion met my inherent drive to push and perfect. The pressure to maintain grace, elegance and discipline before discerning audiences became not only palatable, but a joy! I have never been comfortable being the center of attention. Yet, when I performed it was as if all onlookers had disappeared. It was through this splendid isolation that I was able to bear my soul with such honesty and sincerity. Even preparation rituals were sensory-filled pleasures, from the stroke of my make-up brush, the mist of hair spray to the splash of a favorite perfume. The headpiece, the earrings and the costume, the race of my heartbeat before the curtain rose, the adrenaline after a successful performance, all seemed to nourish some mystic part of my being. This world seemed uniquely my own, and was a part of a fantasy I could indulge in night after night. A true love addiction.

Ballet taught me so much about myself and given expression to a person I never knew existed. It was because of ballet that I learned how strong and resilient I truly am. I learned that there is more than one way to achieve a desired result and what works for one may not work for another. I learned that beauty comes in many shapes and colors, that life is full of contradictions- sometimes you need to dig down to lift yourself up.  Finally, ballet has allowed me to experience my dreams in living color.

The magic of ballet starts well before the curtain raises and I am so honored to say that I have experienced every moment of it.

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