What an amazing time we had in New York City in April! Ballet Afrikana Families had the opportunity to experience Dance Theatre of Harlem (DTH) for their New York City Season. It was amazing to watch the expressions of the dancers watch other dancers perform on stage. Their eyes were huge and their bodies were grooving in their seats.
This trip was especially important to Ballet Afrikana because we wanted to expose the students and families to more aspects of the artistic world. Increasingly, there have been a variety of articles, blogs, and short clips that are affirming messages of Black and Brown bodies in the Ballet world. In many cases, most Ballet companies and schools have an overwhelming number of dancers that are White. When the World of Dance is seen as a "White" space, it makes it difficult for aspiring dancers to see if they can compete in this space and acculturate to this world. Ballet Afrikana recognizes that the overall dance world is pretty divided. And even if there were dancers of color a part of predominantly White companies, the lived experience for that dancer of color may be isolating.
Seeing the dancers perform was awe-inspiring and motivating. Being from the Washington, DC area, I have been spoiled to have access to certain types of dancers or dance companies at my "finger tips," especially at a young age. I was honored to see the vision of traveling to NYC for a performance come to fruition. For some of our dancers, being a professional dancer is not really their goal--and that is completely okay. But, after they witnessed the DTH performance, I could sense their perspectives changed. "Wow, so ballet dancers don't just dance to ballet music...they dance to everything," mentioned one dancer. The finale selection of the DTH performance featured music selections by James Brown and Aretha Franklin. Our entire section was "finger-poppin'" and groovin' their shoulders. Pretty much all of the dancers asked, "can we do something like that when we get home?"
I'm excited that we had a great time. This was our first excursion as a family and we did well. If we would like do this again, we would love the support of everyone at the school.
Check out photos from our trip on our Facebook page: @BalletAfrikana!