Black Girls Rock: Twin Dancers Are Accepted to American Ballet Theatre’s Prestigious Summer Program
Twin sisters Nia and Imani Lindsay have been accepted into the prestigious American Ballet Theatre’s (ABT) Summer Program on scholarship. The young girls have been walking since 8 months and have been dancing ever since. At 10-years old the two are trained in jazz, ballet, contemporary, hip-hop, and tap dance. They are also fluent in English, Spanish and French.
While they reside in Canada they made a trip to New York City to audition for ABT’s Summer Intensive program and found time to sit down with Cipriana of Urban Bush Babes to discuss their big news, bullying, their beautiful natural hair and why they love Misty Copeland: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ply4Rjz_UZM
The Dallas-based organization Brown Girls Do Ballet is turning the spotlight on talented dancers of color.
TaKiyah Wallace never planned on starting an organization that celebrates and supports girls of color who want to be ballerinas, but that’s exactly what happened. When Wallace was looking for a dance school for her then 3-year-old daughter, she noticed something was missing: brown girls.
At the time, Wallace’s daughter hadn’t been enrolled in day care or school, so she wanted to find a dance academy where she’d feel completely at ease. “Her hair was not long and flowing, and she wears her Afro proudly,” Wallace explains. “So I wanted to find a school that was diverse enough for her first experience outside of the house.”
As she surfed several schools’ websites, Wallace, a public school teacher and freelance photographer in Dallas, didn’t find what she was looking for—so she decided to create it. That’s when Brown Girls Do Ballet was born.
“I was looking for a project to shoot during my downtime, so I decided my project was going to be photographing dancers of color,” Wallace says.
At first, she planned on shooting 12 little brown ballerinas, but when the casting call she issued on Facebook received responses from all over the country, she realized she was onto something.
“It went viral,” she says, still surprised by the response. “That’s when I realized how very little we are represented in the ballet world, and specifically the classical ballet world.” Click through to see how Brown Girls Do Ballet has transformed into an organization that not only highlights dancers of color in strikingly beautiful photographs, but also supports them along their journey.
When she was around 8 and rehearsing for The Nutcracker, just a few days before the performance she was told, “I’m sorry, you can’t do it. America’s not ready for a black girl ballerina.”
For Michaela, “to say this to an 8-year-old is just devastating. It was terrible.”
When she was 9, a teacher told her mother: “I don’t like to put money into black dancers because they grow up and end up having big boobs and big hips.”
The dancer looked down at her petite figure and protested, “I don’t have boobs. I don’t get it.”
Instead of getting her down, “It makes me more determined,” she said. “Because I’ve been through so much, I know now that I can make it and I can help other kids who have been in really bad situations realize that they can make it too.”