Last year, my Sugarbean was old enough to participate in ballet, so I enrolled her. She was in an hour long class that divided its time between ballet and tap. She LOATHED tap. Ballet, on the other hand, really struck something within her. Immediately, I scoured the Internets and pinned many ballet items to a board solely devoted to dancing. Luckily for us, her recital was focused on ballet, rather than tap, so she was able to prance around in her costume and perform for us. I loved it and by the look on her face, so did she. This year, we switched to an all ballet class at a different conservatory. This change led to a different approach to her ballet education in that it appeared more serious and concentrated, but still every bit as much fun. Even more so, considering we didn't have to worry about some of the other obstacles we'd encountered before. My only complaint was that there wasn't as much ethnic diversity in this class as we'd had in the other school. I brushed it aside, until about a month ago she came back to me from class asking specifics about her differences in skin color and hair compared to the other girls.
I considered it quite fortuitous and not hardly a coincidence that this project, Brown Girls Do Ballet, presented itself. The project is:
A photo project by TaKiyah Wallace highlighting under represented populations of girls in the genre of ballet ages 3-18.While my girls are half Hispanic and half white, I very much embrace their "brownness" and try to teach them all about our culture. They must know where they come from to get to where they are going. This isn't to say we exclude them from other cultures by any means. Our friends are like the UN, a melting pot of varying cultures and ethnicity, with every shade of skin imaginable and every hair type imaginable. We do our best to try to instill in them the value of the person that is found from within and to not only focus on what we see. Celebrating differences is a a great thing!
As I searched online for examples of brown/ethnic dancers, it occurred to me that traditional ballet dancers bodies are long, lithe, and strong. Great strong bodies. All have the hair tightly pulled back. I submitted a headshot of my gal to the photographer hoping she would be considered. I was thrilled when she told me she had been accepted. TaKiyah requested that the girls come to the shoot with their hair down. The rest, she let happen naturally. Since my little gal has been in front of a camera since before she was born, she totally hammed it up for the camera. I'm over the moon by the outtakes she posted on her Instagram (I hope she posts a couple of snaps she caught of the Sugarbaby, too!):
Regardless, I encourage you to follow along this journey. Check out the Facebook page and follow on along on Instagram and Twitter as well! Thank you for the opportunity, TaKiyah and good luck!