She made headlines and history by becoming the first African-American female principal dancer at the prestigious American Ballet Theatre, she debuted on Broadway in the hit show On the Town and launched her MindLeaps Girls' Program in Rwanda, which uses dance to prepare disadvantaged youth for school.
It's especially lovely when the dance community can gather together and applaud each other's efforts. Such is the environment at the Bessie's, dance's version of the Academy Awards or the Tony's. This year, the 31st-annual ceremony took place at the Apollo Theater in Harlem, with its iconic neon-red sign.
It still hasn't hit me. I'm living my dream and I look forward to continuing to work hard towards becoming a better, stronger dancer. Now that we're here, my hope is that in time, this won't be such a rare achievement, and my reviews and mentions in the media will refer to me simply as a "ballerina," because that's what I am.
Ballet's diversity problem can be distilled to two key obstacles: economics and lack of representation. We can directly address these issues in two concrete ways: by improving access to dance education for lower income students across racial lines, and by increasing representation of dancers of color on our stages.