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" 40 years old is about the time a principal dancer would start to think about retirement, but some go on to dance a little bit longer than that. "
" 'The Company' was interesting. I didn't love it, although it might be compelling to someone who isn't a dancer. There wasn't a lot of dialogue, and you were just kind of observing the creative process of choreography and in class. "
" Once you become a professional, to get through a ballet like 'Swan Lake' - four acts as the lead, changing character - the perseverance is incredible. It takes a lot to make it through and keep the same energy throughout the entire performance. "
" It's hard to change someone's ideas when they might not even really consciously know that they're being racist, or have racist ideas, just because ballet has been this way for hundreds of years. "
" Finding great training, I think, is number one. I did a lot of research and found really great teachers, and it just takes - I took a year off from school and did independent studies so that I could devote all of my time to it. But I think that training is the key, definitely, and it's not a sport. "
" I was on a path. I was going to become a principal dancer. I never let my mind rest. "
" I was seventeen when I moved to New York. I was nineteen when I joined the main company. I was going through a lot. Just becoming an adult and just wanting to fit in, be accepted, and be in common with the other dancers. "
" Barack Obama being President of the United States doesn't mean racism has disappeared. It's all a process, and we have to be aware that the work never ends. "
" In the ballet studio, it was such an organized and disciplined environment, like I'd never had in my life. Seeing myself in the mirror, surrounded by the classical music, that's when I started to fall in love with dance. "
" As a child, I had been told that I was exactly what a ballerina should be. "
" I would have young dancers come to me and ask me questions and want to know what my experiences were like: 'What's it like being a black dancer?' So I just felt like it was necessary for me to share my experiences with them. "
" To be empathetic to everyone around you, I think, is such a powerful thing to hold. "
" That something that I fought so hard for throughout the beginning of my career is I didn't want to pancake my skin a lighter color to fit into the... ballet. I wanted to be myself. I didn't want to have to wear makeup that made my nose look thinner. "
" My curves became an integral part of who I am as a dancer, not something I needed to lose to become one. "
" My family didn't have very much money, so ballet wasn't even on my radar; I just found it randomly when I was 13 at a Boys & Girls Club. We were practicing in a basketball court in gym clothes with some old socks on. Even though it terrified me at first, I found that I really liked it. "
" Finding ballet was like finding this missing piece of myself. "
" I was the first person in my family who was ever interested in dance, or fine art of any kind for that matter - I came from a very humble beginning in San Pedro, California. "
" Be strong, be fearless, be beautiful. And believe that anything is possible when you have the right people there to support you. "
" Growing up, I was surrounded by R&B and Hip-Hop, and the closest thing I could find to dance was gymnastics which I watched on TV. So, I just used those avenues I found available right in my milieu to express what was inside of me. "
" Every time I step onto the stage, it's not only proving to the audience that I'm capable but to myself. "
" If I'm put in a situation where I am not really sure what's going to happen, it can be overwhelming. I get a bit anxious. "
" I wanted to open the dialogue about race in ballet and bring more people in. It's just beautiful to see the interest that has exploded for such an incredible art form that I will forever be grateful to! "
" I feel like with 'On the Town,' it was the perfect production and the perfect opportunity. "
" When I was dancing, I felt in control and happy. I'm a Virgo, so I really like to be in control. "
" I don't feel like my life is that of a superstar! Every day I wake up, I take the train, I go to my ballet class. My everyday life is pretty normal. "
" Ballet was this thing that just felt so innate in me, like I was meant to be doing this. "
Meant To Be
" Being in ballet class, being on the stage, being surrounded by my peers at American Ballet Theater every day, keeps me so humble and grounded. Being in ballet class, I feel, is like this meditation for me every morning. "
" I never thought of myself as special or particularly good at anything. But once I started ballet, suddenly I had a new identity: prodigy. "
" Being one of the few African American women to make it to this level in a classical ballet company, the level of American Ballet Theatre, takes a lot of perseverance. "
" Finding ballet gave me passion for the first time in my life. I was always very shy and just wanted to fit in; I never daydreamed about what I wanted to be when I grew up. But dancing gave me a connection to my personality that made me grow. "
" I grew up poor in San Pedro, California, sleeping on the floor of shady motels with my five siblings and not always sure when or where I'd get my next meal. "