Follow these Dance Leaders! (A List of Dancers Who are Doing Good Things)

Take a look around you. The dance world is changing! Recently, I have taken some time to reflect and redefine what it means to me to be a good dancer. It is one thing to have good technique, but we can take it so much further and use our dancing to do good things. This post features dancers who are doing good.

Brown Girls Do Ballet

Brown Girls Do Ballet is a nonprofit organization that promotes diversity in the arts by providing scholarships, mentors, and community programs for young girls. The organization began as a personal photography project by TaKiyah Wallace to highlight girls of African, Asian, East Indian, Hispanic, and Native American ancestry in Ballet programs.

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Hello there, we’ve been getting quite a bit of attention lately so we thought that now would be a great time to reintroduce ourselves and share a bit about our story. We are a small, Black woman operated non-profit with a huge impact that would love to do much MORE. People often think we are large in size behind the scenes. Actually, day to day operations are run by one person and until last week when we hired an intern, we were 100% unpaid volunteer.⁣ ⁣⁣⁣ ⁣⁣ We are Brown Girls Do Ballet. ⁣ ⁣⁣⁣ ⁣⁣ Brown Girls Do Ballet was founded in 2012 as a photo project by a mom and photographer seeking to share images she had taken to inspire her daughter. The photo project quickly gained steam when stories and images from dancers began to pour in from all over the world, expressing what it was often like to be the only girl of color in ballet classes.⁣ ⁣⁣⁣ ⁣⁣ In 2013 we started giving small scholarships to young dancers and started a mentorship program now known as The Brown Girls Do Ballet Ambassador Program.⁣ ⁣⁣⁣ ⁣⁣ Also in 2013, The Brown Girls Do Ballet® Small Studio Grant was initiated as a call to action to assist in the development of ballerinas in smaller dance programs deserving of additional funding to aid in their programs.⁣ ⁣⁣⁣ ⁣⁣ Brown Girls did all of these things before becoming a full-fledged non-profit in 2015. ⁣ ⁣⁣⁣ ⁣ Since 2015 Brown Girls Do Ballet has continued to provide resources (monetary, mentorship, and physical) to dancers of color across the globe. We like to think of ourselves as silent but strong in the work that we do behind the scenes. We've traveled all over the country, often popping up at your shows, mobilizing and giving out supplies to dance studios affected by natural disasters, and making sure your dancers feel like they have a safe haven. We've been fortunate enough to partner with a myriad of brands to make our supply closet possible, which has served many. ⁣ ⁣⁣⁣ ⁣ We are proud to be Brown Girls Do Ballet.⁣⁣⁣ ⁣⁣ You are welcome here.⁣ ⁣⁣⁣ ⁣⁣ Tell us how you found us!⁣⁣⁣ ⁣⁣⁣ Photo credit: @madlystylish ⁣⁣ ⁣⁣ #browngirlsdoballet #browngirlsdoinc #nonprofit #scholarships #grants #morethanjustaninstagram

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Memoirs of Blacks in Ballet

Memoirs of Black in Ballet is a digital space created by Theresa Ruth Howard to curate the stories and experiences of Black ballet dancers. Through ever-expanding projects like the Historical Timeline of Blacks in Ballet and the MoBBallet RollCall, this online

Frankie Manning Foundation

The Frankie Manning Foundation is a restricted funds project of the Houston Swing Dance Society. Their mission is to carry on the work of Frankie Manning in spreading Lindy hop throughout the world through projects like the Archive of Early Lindy Hop. They recently launched an emergency support program to provide financial assistance for Full-time Lindy Hop professionals who have had a loss of income because of the COVID-19 outbreak.

Biscuit Ballerina

Biscuit Ballerina is a comedic account run by Shelby Williams, a soloist with the Royal Ballet of Flanders. Williams is using her platform to host a live Instagram Study Hall on Wednesday, June 10 to discuss the history of Black dancers in ballet.

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Yesterday I was extremely lucky to be able to talk to Theresa Ruth Howard, founder of @mobballet. She made the point that to be an ally for inclusion and equity, it requires not only doing the work to educate oneself but also questioning the way we contribute. Are we asking others to do the work for us by constantly turning to our Black friends for answers? 🤔 I asked her, "How can I use my platform more effectively than simply reposting content?" and she came up with a brilliant idea: a study hall. 🤓 . . The first thing those of us who are not Black can and should do to initiate change is educate ourselves on the history and experiences of our Black brothers and sisters in this dance family. Theresa suggested starting with inviting my followers to do the homework with me. 📚📝 All of you Biscuiteers can then meet up with me via IG Live to dissect it together. We can spare our Black friends the work of having to explain things to each of their friends over and over again. . . If having to re-teach choreography several times to dancers who missed rehearsal has taught me anything, having to repeat things for others gets old FAST. 🙄 But like a DVD of repertoire, we've got access to the info right at our fingertips, so let's pick up everything we can and THEN turn to our Black friends if we're still not getting something. 👩🏻‍💻 I felt it was fitting to start the first "Study Hall" by looking through Theresa's work and examining the history of Blacks in ballet. . . Join me to discuss what surprised you, what influences you recognize in ballet today, and any other study hall style thoughts. I also warmly welcome any Black dancers who would be curious to just watch or add in any additional commentary or food for thought while we chat! 💗 I look forward to hearing from you all on Wednesday!

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Do you know of more dancers who are doing good? I’d love to hear about them! Leave me a comment below, or send me an email at DancesWithNikki@gmail.com.


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