If you Google the term "Black Ballerinas" a series of links appear within the search engine's stream that illustrates to the unfamiliar that there are little or no black ballerinas that exist. I have been curious myself whether or not there were ballerina studios out there for African American girls. Thanks to Twitter, I saw a post about the Ballet Afrique based in Austin, TX. It is a well-known studio that received major press from Oprah's O Magazine and several local TV stations.
According to BalletAfrique.org, Ballet Afrique is a professional performing arts company for dedicated, passionate, and gifted artists on a quest for technical growth and artistic nourishment. The company employs a synthesis of ballet, modern, and African dance to articulate the human condition and spirit through the unbounded art form of dance. Ballet Afrique is comprised of two companies and a student academy: Ballet Afrique Contemporary Dance, the Umoja Youth Company, and the Ballet Afrique Dance Academy. One of our aims is to reach families who typically do not have access to the arts, whether that boundary be financial, language-based, physical, or mental. We pride ourselves on works of dance that possess both high artistic merit, as well as works bearing a readiness to connect and inspire a multitude of people from various walks of life. It is our mission to artistically represent an adoration and joy for movement that transcends race, gender, and socio-economic backgrounds while providing a nurturing environment where artists can embody, and audiences can experience, the desire, athleticism, and vitality of dance.
Founder China Smith has taught dance for over ten years in East Austin schools and performing arts programs. While exposing students to Austin’s rich arts community, she found limited exposure to Black art, crucial to the self-empowerment of her young students. Working against stereotypes and misconceptions of the African-American culture, the concept of Ballet Afrique was born to offer East Austin youth a place to experience the richness of their own heritage through the arts alongside the other beautiful cultures represented in Austin.
However, the dance studio is in need of your help, so please spread the word about the IndieGoGo Campaign that is currently setup to help raise funds so that Ballet Afrique can keep a permanent dance studio and to help continue to make dreams come true for lives of little girls hoping to be the next extraordinary ballet dancer. Currently the campaign has raised $1,911 of their $25,000 goal. As of today's date there are only 29 days left. Which is why they need your help! Please spread the news through every social media network you are a part of and make as much noise about this campaign as possible. Let's use social media for good and distribute this information about this awesome studio that works to teach young black girls to master the art of ballet! Thank you.