black-ballerinas

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Misty Copeland and her boyfriend, laywer Olu Evans (Taye Diggs’ cousin)

Enter Olu. She met him at a club in Chelsea in 2004. Tall and fit, with a pair of dimples that made her heart flutter, he was with actor Taye Diggs, his cousin, when he spotted her on the dance floor. [Eleven] years later, they’re still together.

“He was my first boyfriend,” says Copeland, breaking into a huge smile. “He taught me to communicate in ways I’d never learned before, to not run away from problems, and sit down and think about things critically. And he made me feel like I really did have a bright future as a ballerina.”  (x)

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We missed you, fam.

But we’re glad to be back with an episode on the AH-mazing China Smith and her dance company, Ballet Afrique. In 2008, when China realized there were no black dancers in ATX, she decided that she would be the one to train them. 

After years of inspiring young black girls to pursue the arts, Ballet Afrique’s been forced to move out of their old location in Highland Mall and they’re now in a space not equipped for training young dancers. If you can, PLEASE DONATE to Ballet Afrique’s Go Fund Me so they can get their new studio set up in time for their fall classes!

I know we would all love to see more black ballerinas.

HAIR TIPS FOR BLACK DANCERS

Alright guys let’s be real. Figuring out how to wear your hair while dancing is pretty tough when your hair doesn’t act the same as other dancers whether you are relaxed or natural. Sometimes our hair can’t fit into a perfect bun on its own so here’s some tips!!!

Long-term protective styles such like braids and twist can be great for dance! The trick is to make sure you get them small/short enough so that your bun is still relatively small. (trust me box braids down to your butt while be absolute hell while dancing been there done that) also using Marley braiding hair will make your braids/twist A LOT lighter. Here’s some good braids/twist you can get with/without extensions.

Senegalese Twist

Mini Twist

Naptural85 (pictured here) has a great tutorial on how to install mini twist on natural hair here

Twisted/Braided Updos

If you’re not a fan of long term protective styles and like to change your hair often, low maintenance styles like halo braids and faux buns might be a good choice for you.

Halo Braid


MahoganyCurls (pictured here) has a good tutorial on how to do them here 

Faux Buns

I’m actually not sure if this one is faux or not but a good tutorial on how to do different style faux buns is right here

Puffs

Puffs are what I do and then I cover it with a black stocking I cut to use as a bun cover 

Also If you have locs you should definitely check out Franchesca for several loc bun tutorials.

You can find a ton of hair care information in these places

Black Girl With Long Hair

Sporty Afros

(And probably a lot more places but these two are my favorite lol ) I really hope this is useful to some of you! I struggled a lot in the beginning because I could never find what worked for me and how to style my hair for ballet class especially because I have short 4c natural hair. Anyway hope you guys try some of these out!

Beautiful Ballerina

Marilyn Nelson

Every little girl has the dream to become a prima ballerina! On today’s ever-changing cultural stage, ballerinas come in all shapes, sizes, colors, and abilities. To celebrate the beauty of black ballerinas, here is a lush photographic picture book with a brilliant poetic narrative, brought to young readers by two amazing talents. The minimal text balances the harmony of the photos and demonstrates the joy of movement.

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With some QUEEN black ballerinas, Therrell C. Smith and Virginia Johnson. Ya know, in a career where the network of dancers is so tight knit, to have Virginia Johnson, former principle of Dance Theatre of Harlem and current artistic director, wish you well, give you her phone number, and ask you to stay in touch, is like striking gold. And to have Therrell Smith on your side, considering who she’s trained and the spam and reach of their careers, is pretty darn awesome. That Kitri variation I’d posted a while ago is the reason I was honored. It got me a substantial scholarship, but more importantly connections that will be so vital to my career. *gives self high five*

#BrownBallerinasStickTogether

So, I had a ballet audition this morning and it was fine, but that’s not really what struck me most about my day.

There was only one other girl auditioning, and she was Black too. She only started dancing a few years ago, and she just moved to the city. She had no idea how the local and express trains worked, knew very little about the industry, and was generally feeling a bit lost and frustrated, so I hung with her for a little while and shared all the knowledge I had so she could feel more confident going forward. In return, she took me to Steps on Broadway, where she does-work study and where I’ve never taken class before (and been to scared to go alone), to look around and get a feel for the place. I don’t know everything by any means, but I knew enough to help get her on her way. And she knew enough to help me, too.

We Brown ballerinas have to stick together. Yes, we all know about each other because we’re all out here lurking on/flexing for the ‘gram, but where are we when we truly need one another in real life and in person? Misty Copeland is a literal bona-fide certified star, Chyrstyn, Paige and Daphne (and plenty of others) are killing the game, Wallace TaKiyah is making it easier for us to find each other online and we’re getting more mainstream media facetime, but are we really physically, emotionally 'outchea’ for one another as friends and sistahs?! This is a tough industry to be in alone in any case, but it can be especially lonely when you have no friends or fellow dancers that look like you. It is critical that we establish a real-life, emotionally rich sisterhood of Black and Brown ballerinas.

So, I’m out here for you if you need me. And this is saying a lot because I’m an Aspie who generally struggles to talk to new people but I’m willing to challenge myself and my weirdly-wired brain for all y'all. I’m @theblackswandiaries on Instagram. I take class every morning at BDC, I hit Planet Fitness three mornings a week, and you can generally find me in Harlem.

Brown Girls Do Ballet. We do sisterhood and friendship and mentorship and inspiration, too. Let’s flourish together.

#browngirlsdoballet