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Black Female Dancer at New York City Ballet?

34 posts in this topic

I had no idea that city ballet had a black female dancer in the corp de ballet. Who is she?

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It makes me happy that diversity is becoming more common, but really... It's ridiculous that we still see so few dancers of color that we're surprised to see them! Sometimes it really does seem ballet is stuck firmly in the past. In what other art forums would a post like this even exist?

(Sorry I have no answers for you; I'm sure one of our many New Yorkers will be able to help you!)

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Outside Cuba, that's sad, but true.

In the cast I saw of PNB's "Nutcracker" the party children looked like a mini United Nations reunion. In the toy house (to the Mother Ginger music), which uses more advanced, although not yet Professional Division students, it made me want to weep at the contrast.

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Thank you. There's a tiny human close to me who has fallen in love with ballet. I want her to know about role models who look like her.

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The title of this thread sounds like a headline from the 1960s.

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Unfortunately, it's still news over 50 years later.

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You might find it interesting to Google Olivia Boisson. There are a lot of interesting photos and her Facebook site has posts available to non friends. She is a New Yorker of Haitian descent who attended LaGuardia Arts High School.

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Thank you. There's a tiny human close to me who has fallen in love with ballet. I want her to know about role models who look like her.

You might help your tiny human find out about Debra Austin. She was one of my favorite NYCB dancers in the 1970's. Balanchine choreographed a great solo for her in Ballo Della Regina. She now is a ballet mistress for the Carolina Ballet

Here's a link to a picture and some information

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NYCB has had a number of black dancers, both male and female, including two principals (both male) - Arthur Mitchell and Andre Evans. Some of the past black female dancers include Debra Austin, as mentioned above, Andrea Long, Aesha Ash, Myrna Kamara, and Cynthia Lochard.

Olivia Boisson is a very talented new corps member who I think may really move up.

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And remember Arthur Bell, who fell on hard times but at the end of his life reconnected with his family:

http://articles.latimes.com/1998/apr/12/news/mn-38491

And in the brief time that NYCB was Ballet Society, Betty Nichols. She died in 2010, but the current Ballet Review has an interview with her from 1983.

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Also Raven Wilkinson of the Ballet Russe as well as Delores Brown and Janet Collins of course.

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Aesha Ash left NYCB in 2003. Ms. Boisson is the first AA female since that time to move into the NYCB corps. I think that's pretty sad.

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Taylor Stanley is an AA who rapidly rose to soloist with NYCB and is a fabulous dancer!

ETA: Taylor is male (not sure if the discussion is only about female AA dancers in NYCB)

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I think it is sad too. There are disproportionately few African American girls in American ballet schools... European Americans mostly with a few Asian Americans, but very very few African Americans. It is Ballet's loss. This is why it is so important for the role models to be seen.

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While it's true that there are still very few black ballet dancers in major companies in the U.S., I'm not sure that the same can be said of dance companies in general (example, modern dance). Alvin Ailey Dance Company, Complexions and Bill T. Jones' Company, are examples. On the other hand, I can only think of one black dancer in the Paul Taylor company (Michelle Fleet) and none in Martha Graham.

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This is slightly off topic, given that she dances for Dance Theater of Harlem, but if someone is researching Afro-American dancers, here is a lovely example :

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Of course from the past, Lydia Abarca and Paul Russell who danced for DTH but whom I saw in Ruth Page's Nut as guest Sugar Plum and Prince.

More up to date Michaela DePrince, who has left DTH for Holland I think?

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