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Brooke Trisolini, Courtesy Boston Ballet

My Experience as a Black Ballerina in a World of Implicit Bias

I remember the first year that I competed at the Youth America Grand Prix. I was 17 years old and particularly excited to be participating in a competition that focused on ballet. First up for my age group was classical, where I danced Kitri's Act I variation showing off all of my strengths: personality, speed and the ability to jump and turn. I felt really proud of how it went—imperfect, but not terrible.

The next day I performed my contemporary solo, a dance I choreographed to a jazzy version of The Beatles' "Blackbird." I danced in bare feet with my natural hair out. Halfway through the solo I forgot the steps and improvised my way through the rest. I felt mortified, defeated and heartbroken. Later that day, I was pulled aside by one of the competition's organizers congratulating me (what?) and telling me that they wanted to work to get me a scholarship to The Ailey School. I had already participated in Ailey's intensive the summer prior and had discovered that modern dance was not the language in which I wanted to develop. I wanted to do ballet.

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Courtesy Dance Theatre of Harlem Archives

What to Watch: Dance Theatre of Harlem Streams Its Historic "Creole Giselle" on June 6

In 1984, Dance Theatre of Harlem co-founder Arthur Mitchell took one of ballet oldest surviving ballets, Giselle, and gave it a uniquely American twist: He moved the ballet's setting from medieval Europe to an Afro-Creole community in 1840s Louisiana. The resulting production, Creole Giselle, featured an all-Black cast and was hailed by critics as a groundbreaking achievement. While the ballet hasn't been performed for quite some time, it was filmed for television in 1987, starring current DTH artistic director Virginia Johnson in the title role.

This weekend, we'll have a chance to witness this important work. On Saturday, June 6, at 8 pm EDT, the company will stream Creole Giselle on its Facebook page and YouTube channel as part of its DTH on Demand Virtual Ballet Series. And throughout the week, DTH is hosting preview events on its social media platforms with original cast members and current company artists.


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Tulsa Ballet in Ma Cong's Tchaikovsky: The Man Behind the Music. Kate Luber Photography, Courtesy Tulsa Ballet.

Updated: Mark Your Calendars for These Online Ballet Performances

Updated on 5/27/2020

Since COVID-19 has forced ballet companies around the world to cancel performances—and even the remainder of their seasons—many are keeping their audiences engaged by streaming or posting pre-recorded performances onto their websites or social media channels. To help keep you inspired during these challenging times, we've put together a list of upcoming streaming events and digital performances.

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