2017 Scholarship Awardees


The Brown Girls Do Inc Summer Intensive Scholarship Program is a platform to help assist girls who have the talent, drive, and dedication, attend and participate in ballet companies' intensives, and workshops in an effort to continue their training.


This year, we elected to award three scholarships to deserving girls who have committed themselves to demonstrating superior performance in ballet. In addition to the summer intensive cost, this scholarship covers additional costs associated with dance needs (such as pointe shoes, leotards, travel expenses, etc.) We are proud to announce that the three students who were able to take advantage of the Brown Girls Do Ballet Summer Intensive Scholarship Program were Sydney Allen, (who was the 1st ever Dance Dreams of Maryland Scholarship Winner), Jillian Jones, who received the Ballet Summer Intensive Scholarship, and Brooke Terry, who won the Brown Girls Do Ballet Ambassador Summer Intensive Scholarship. We congratulate these exceptional brown girls, their achievement, and dedication to dance, and we wish them the best of luck with their futures!


Sydney Allen Full Body Photo(1).jpg

The Maryland native, Sydney Allen, even in her young age is certainly no stranger to the world of dance. She has dedicated her time to performances such as "The Nutcracker" and "Sleeping Beauty", and various others. In addition, Sydney has received training from County Ballet where she learned modern, jazz, and hip-hop, the Dance Conservatory of Maryland, as well as the Johns Hopkins Peabody Institute where she learned to cultivate her talents in ballet. Her talents are vast, and we appreciation her dedication to diversification and excellence.  Allen enjoys acting, painting, science, and unsurprisingly, art. 

Words from the Winner

  " I have been dancing for seven years and I feel that I have grown as a person and as a dancer because of dance.  I am able to push myself harder to exceed my goals as a dancer.  Dancing to me is a way to express any feelings you have through movement.  When I dance I feel like I can accomplish anything.  I feel like I am on top of the world where everything is before me.  I like every type of dance but I prefer ballet the most because there are different steps: some fast some slow, some hard some easy, some I like, some I don’t like.  There are a variety of steps so I never get bored.  I’m always trying my hardest to be the best I can be.  I like ballet also because it is the base of all types of dance. "

Sydney Allen attended the Dance Conservatory of Maryland, Ballet Chesapeake, and Johns Hopkins Peabody Institute for her intensives! 



Brooke Terry from St. Louis, Missouri is another dancer who was exemplified what it means to well-rounded, dedicated, and experienced dancer. Trained in her home city of St. Louis at the Center of Creative Arts, Terry has done ballet, jazz, tap, hip-hop, modern, and pointe. She has been under the leadership of numerous trainers for over 10 years, that have aided her in her diverse growth in dance. Though she's thankful for the opportunity, The Alvin Ailey Summer Intensive (NYC) will merely be an addition to the many other experiences she's gained including Ballet Initiative, Kansas City Ballet, Dance Theatre of Harlem, and COCA Ballet Intensive. In addition to her training and performance, Brooke serves as an officer for the Black Student Union at Clayton High School, Speaker for the National Endowment of the Arts, as well as a Brown Girls Do Ballet Calendar Shoot participant. 

Words from the Winner

"Why do I dance? I dance because it’s the only thing that I have ever known, considering eight counts have been in my heart for as long as I can remember. Dance is the only thing that I have ever done, and most likely the only thing that I will ever be able to say overflows my heart with joy, love, and passion, merely at the sight of it. I dance because it makes me so happy, and relieves any stress that I have endured in that day or week. A great class can wash any sadness, anger, or even anxiety out of my system allowing me to leave my second home, the dance studio, refreshed and over joyed. I dance because the blood, sweat, and tears, is over shadowed by the love, success, and empowerment I feel after a performance. I have always loved to perform."

Brooke Terry attended the Alvin Ailey Summer Intensive (NYC)!


Dance Picture(1).jpg

Jillian Jones, student at LaShelle's School of Dance in Michigan. She performs with an internationally acclaimed dance troupe and has spent the past 6 years furthering her hip-hop, jazz, tap, ballet, modern, and acrobatic performance. It's Jillian's willingness to learn and cooperative spirit that has granted her success, allowing her to dance at numerous conventions, competitions, and workshops. Additionally, her knowledge and dedication to excellence in her art form have allowed her to win various awards, including "Excellence in Dance" at Tremaine, "Summer Dance Intensive" with the Dance Theatre of Harlem", and many others. 


Words from the Winner

"I dance because it allows me to express myself to the world. In reality I am a very shy person however, once I hit the stage I go into another world. I go into character and feel the movements that I am portraying on stage. When I dance it allows me to have a voice without words. The words that I share are through my movements on stage. Dancing allows me to be fearless. When I hit the stage I feel at home. Every care or concern disappears and nothing else matters but the song, movement and the audience watching."

Jillian Jones attended the Dance Theatre of Harlem for her intensive!

Brown Girls Do Ballet is incredibly proud of each scholarship recipient! We are grateful to be able to provide brown girls across the nation with the opportunity to be able to cultivate their talent and further their interest in dance. Ensuring equality and representation in dance, by providing students of different backgrounds with opportunities is the objective of Brown Girls do Ballet and this scholarship program is a true demonstration of that. Help us congratulate these young ladies as they complete their intensives and fulfill our objective. 

AbunDance Academy of the Arts

We are happy to learn that the AbunDance Academy of the Arts is creating spaces for underprivileged and minority individuals to be educated, and thrive as artists. Similar to Brown Girls Do, this organization's efforts are to groom the next generation of multicultural dancers and performing artists, break down economic barriers to access, and make a performing arts education accessible for all. Cultivating talent while ensuring equal opportunity in the arts is the objective of AbunDance Academy, and we encourage you to support such proponents of diversity and inclusion. 

About AbunDance Academy of the Arts

          AbunDance Academy of the Arts is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization whose mission is to provide stellar arts education to students who seek enrichment within the “AbunDance” that the world of performing arts provides. We foster a nurturing environment that emphasizes a well- rounded and thorough approach to the arts and more importantly, to life. With a healthy and robust curriculum, we offer specialized classes in dance, martial arts, theater, vocal and music performance as well as adult programs for fitness, health and wellness at accessible rates so that people of all income levels can experience the arts first-hand. Our diverse faculty roster includes highly skilled teaching artists who are passionate about their artistry and the budding artistry of each and every student that attends classes at AbunDance Academy of the Arts. Our goal is to groom artists of vast backgrounds and hone creativity and superb talent. AbunDance Academy of the Arts gives students/ clients the opportunity to explore their passions, and is truly a place where “In AbunDance, there’s Dance!”


Founded in 2013 by Karisma Jay, an acclaimed dancer and actress who has performed on Broadway, television and with numerous dance companies including Ronald K. Brown/ Evidence, Maimouna Keita, Creative Outlet of Brooklyn, Brooklyn Ballet, and Abdel Salaam’s Forces of Nature, Jay found that the world of performing arts wasn’t available to people who came from lower income households. Growing up as the child of a single parent, she felt blessed that her mother worked so hard to secure the funds to give her top-quality training so that she could pursue her passion for dance. After years of performing on stages around the globe, Jay decided she wanted to help give the next generation of dancers the opportunity to receive superior instruction without cost being a barrier to entry.


AbunDance in Brooklyn

Brooklyn, NY – AbunDance Academy of the Arts is an established non-profit arts organization dedicated to offering children and adults top-notch free and affordable dance, theater, and musical instruction at all levels. From full scholarships to low sliding scale fees, the organization makes arts education accessible to people of all income levels so that they can experience the arts first-hand.  Through its top notch, hands-on instruction and partnerships with community organizations that provide after school programs centered on the arts and youth mentorship and senior centers, AbunDance Academy of the Arts serves over 100 students annually. Located in Brooklyn’s Prospect Lefferts Gardens’ neighborhood, the school annually trains students aged 2-80 and offers sliding scale fees to families in addition to full scholarships. AbunDance Academy of the Arts also offers adult programs and teaches special classes for adults well into their senior years.


“There is so much raw talent in the world that isn’t being developed solely because of the fact that education in these art forms is so costly. I wanted the school to be a place where the focus is on developing students’ innate gifts without it being a financial strain for their families” said Karisma Jay, Founder and Artistic Director of the AbunDance Academy of the Arts.

As a teacher of children and adults, Jay strives to be a walking example of how the arts can be healing and impactful in one's life.



To learn more about AbunDance Academy of the Arts classes and programming, please visit www.abundancearts.org, and any of their social media listed below. 

          Twitter: AbunDanceBK

          Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/abundancebk

          Photo Credit: AbunDance Academy of the Arts


5 to Watch 2017

Poised perfection, the following 5 dancers are on our radar. We have watched them dance and grow and we could not be more proud of their hard work and accomplishments. These young Brown Ballerinas are dedicated dancers who are both intelligent and talented, just 2 of the reasons that they are 2017's '5 to Watch'.

Kelly Hicks

Photo Credit:  @henrikebeate.photos

Kelly Hicks, age 13, a native of sunny Southern California, began taking dance classes at age 5. After being on stage with Moscow Ballet Theater two years later, she fell in love with ballet and soon began her classical training Vaganova style.

She currently attends Dance Channel TV Studios for classical ballet and studies under Bolshoi alumni, Arsen Serobian.
At age 11, Kelly placed top 12 at San Francisco Regionals with a contemporary piece and advanced to the Youth American Grand Prix finals in New York City. 

In 2015 and 2016 she was invited to join local Nutcracker productions as a corps de ballet dancer as well as with doll solo pieces.

Kelly attended her first summer intensive across the country with Ellison Ballet in 2016, and this year she placed top 12 junior classical at the YAGP regional Los Angeles and was the gold medalist of the classical variation division at California Dance Classics.

Photo Credit: LK Studio Inc

Photo Credit: LK Studio Inc

Kelly has received scholarship offers for summer from Houston Ballet, Kirov and Bolshoi Academy but has decided to return to Ellison Ballet. Kelly was invitedand has recently committed to attending American Ballet Theatre's Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis School in NYC.

Kelly dreams of one day becoming a principal dancer with ABT.

video courtesy of: Photo Credit: LK Studio Inc

Kamala Saara McDaniels

Photo Credit - Don McDaniels

Photo Credit - Don McDaniels

Kamala Saara McDaniels began her formal ballet training with master teacher Yuri Grigoriev of Yuri Grigoriev School of Ballet in 2011 at the age of 10.

In 2012, at the request of Mr. Grigoriev Kamala competed in the pre-competitive category at the Los Angeles YAGP regional semi-finals, a competition that helps prepare students for a level of professionalism that is expected in the international world of ballet.

Kamala has performed twice at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion; Joffrey Ballet's 'Nutcracker' 2011 and American Ballet Theatre's production of 'Le Corsaire' in 2013.

In 2016, Kamala placed 3rd in the Junior Classical/top 12 in Junior Contemporary categories at the Los Angeles YAGP regional semi-finals and traveled to New York to compete in the Youth America Grand Prix/YAGP Finals. She was awarded a full scholarship for year-round study with Academie De Danse Princess Grace in Monaco, France.

Photo credit - Michelle Bello McDaniels

Photo credit - Michelle Bello McDaniels

This past November at the invitation of YAGP, Kamala competed in the European Semi-finals in Paris, France where she placed 2nd in classical (the only American Junior to place in the 12-14 category) and top 12 in contemporary. Palucca University of Dance in Dresden, Germany offered her a full scholarship for year-round study and she received an invitation to compete at the YAGP NY Finals this coming April.

This summer, Kamala will participate in the prestigious Bolshoi Ballet Academy 6 week Summer Intensive in New York City on a full scholarship.

Kamala is working to fulfill her dream of completing her Russian ballet training in Russia. She hopes one day to dance professionally in Europe and then in the United States.

Amaya Joseph

Amaya Joseph, 11, is a little girl with big dreams who is working hard every day to make her dreams a reality. Amaya started dancing at the age of 3 and has been dancing ever since; her ultimate goal is to become a principal ballerina. 
Amaya attends Orlando Ballet School and is enrolled in the pre-professional division where she trains six days a week. Amaya’s training consists of ballet, pointe, jazz, character, and variation.

In January of 2016 Amaya competed in Youth America Grand Prix (YAGP) competition and placed 2nd in the classical division and top 12 in contemporary, she was also invited and competed in the NY finals.

Amaya auditioned and was accepted into American Ballet Theatre’s Young Dancer Summer Workshop in NY, she trained there for two weeks and described her time at ABT as “Amazing.”

This past January, Amaya competed in YAGP and placed top 12 in the classical division. In February of this year, Amaya had the privilege of performing in her first musical with the Orlando Ballet Company. Amaya performed the lead role of “Annie” in the “Best of Broadway” Production, and she is forever grateful for this opportunity.

Photo Credit: VAM (Visual Arts Masters)

Photo Credit: VAM (Visual Arts Masters)

Amaya auditioned for three summer intensives this year: ABT, Miami City Ballet, and The Rock; Amaya was accepted into all three and received a partial scholarship from one of the three. She has decided she will be attending Miami City Ballet’s 5-week summer program.

Another highlight for Amaya this year was when she received the news that she was selected as an ambassador for Brown Girls Do Ballet, she is humbled by this opportunity. She hopes she can be an inspiration to other ballerinas and is thankful for those who have paved the way for her. Michaela Deprince, Misty Copeland, Ingrid Silva, and Lauren Anderson are a few of her role models.

Video Courtesy of VAM (Visual Arts Masters)

Helga Paris-Morales

Photo Credit: Rene Micheo

Photo Credit: Rene Micheo

Helga Paris-Morales 17, was born in San Juan,  Puerto Rico where she first experienced movement and music. Coming from a family of professional musicians, she always understood and felt the power within it; and became inspired. When she first was able to attend lessons in the United States after her family moved, she knew that she’d want to inspire the world as an artist one day. 

Helga is a current student at the Washington School of Ballet’s Pre-Professional Training Program under the direction of Xiomara Reyes. She previously moved from Cincinnati, Ohio after attending the School For Creative and Performing Arts as a dance major from 8th-10th grade, performing leading roles in their productions. When Helga was 8, she was enrolled in the Cincinnati Conservatory of Music’s Youth Ballet where she was introduced to ballet and theatre. 

Photo Credit: Lepa Juju Stojanovic

Photo Credit: Lepa Juju Stojanovic

Since 2012, Helga has received scholarships and invitations to summer intensives including ABT, Joffrey, Kansas City Ballet, San Francisco Ballet, and Cincinnati Ballet. She was a 2015 Overture finalist and has danced roles including Giselle, Odette/Odile, and Sugar Plum. 

This summer, Helga will attend the Washington School of Ballet’s Summer Intensive program and will continue to expand and explore her capacities as a dancer and artist. 

Tais Vinolo

Photo Credit: Melina Gineau

Photo Credit: Melina Gineau

Tais Vinolo is  13-year-old ballerina from France. Taïs studied classical ballet at the School Of Ballet Lipszyc in Biarritz, France, for five years. In Biarritz, she progressed quickly and became one of the best dancers of the school.

In 2015, while in  Los Angeles with family, Taïs spotted the date of an American Ballet Theatre Summer Intensive audition and decided to go for it.  Mom, Alexandra, states after the auditions, "We figured she was enjoying herself and then, as we did not believe, we really forgot to look at the results. In fact, I had given a secondary email address in a box that I rarely open. It was only in February, by chance, that I came across the mail in question. When I opened it, when I read "Congratulations", I did not really believe it. "

 Taïs was invited as one of 200 young people selected for the summer intensive at ABT in New York and then invited for admission to the ABT pre-professional school year round, where she currently studies.

Photo Credit: Maxime Vinolo

Photo Credit: Maxime Vinolo

Moving from France to the U.S. didn't come without adjustments for Taïs, leaving friends was hard. "I'm a little sad, but we keep in touch with social networks. I will not have time to get bored. There is school in the morning until 2 pm and then, from 3 to 8 pm, dance every day except Sunday. In addition to this program, there are numerous trips to accompany the professional company."

At the age of 13, the teenager has a huge dream and she on her way. "Classical dance is my passion, and if there is a company that attracted me, it was the American Ballet Theatre!  "

Video courtesy of Maxime Vinolo

Bronze Queen: Paige Fraser

© Keda Sharber 2016

© Keda Sharber 2016

A special feature written by Keda Sharber of  Images by Papillon

Bronze Queen

I met a bronze queen
With unseen wings on her feet. 

She was made of beauty & grace, Adorned with strength. 

She carried with her a quiet wisdom That floated from her words like Fragrant petals from a spent stem. 

She told me of how she was Rooted in Island Paradise, Raised in the Boogie Down, Residing in the Windy City. 

I met a bronze queen
With unseen wings on her feet. 

Her movements were an introduction
To the soul who had danced since 4 years old. 

Her walk, with graceful steps and head held high, Reflected her years spent in careful study and dedication To the art form of the swans. 

Her eyes were windows to the past,
To a younger self with fierce dreams that were Nearly broken with a solitary word. 


In most cases, that word is the final word Of the final chapter
Of the final book of dance. 

The next book usually begins with chapters titled “Hello, Surgery,” and “The Death of a Dream." 

But this bronze queen refused to turn the Paige. Instead, she determined to make her Seemingly impossible dream a reality. 

She would write her own ending,
Or rather, a continuation, of her book of dance. 

Armed with pointe shoes and a back brace,
She entered high school as the author of such chapters as “Saying No to Surgery” and “Adventures in Chiropractic Care." 

Not yet fully knowing that through this trial, Her character was being built
Her story was being created, 

She defied the odds and resolved that The curvature of her spine would not Dictate the trajectory of her ascent. 

I met a bronze queen
With unseen wings on her feet. 

She was a soldier in the battle of the dance. Fighting against manmade barriers
That said she was too brown, too strong
To do the thing she was born to do. 

Her strengths were placed center stage, Masquerading as imperfections. 

“No” was the word of the day.
But, knowing that timing is everything,
She pressed on with patience & perseverance. 

And now, even when progress has been made,
Awards have been presented and
Accolades have been bestowed,
She knows that dance is a beautiful, never-ending journey. 

She is not satisfied with right now.
"Good enough" will never be good enough. 

She sets her sights on future accomplishments
And desired personal growth.
Gaining inspiration from dancers who came before,
She studies, always ready for the next challenge to come her way. 

I met a bronze queen
With unseen wings on her feet. 

And wherever she goes,
She leaves a trail of young, inspired dancers Along the way. 

Paige Fraser is a founding dancer of Visceral Dance Chicago now in her fourth season with the company. Paige appeared in the 2016 Intel Campaign “Experience Amazing” as their RealSense dancer. She is honored to be a recipient of a 2016 Dance Fellowship from the Princess Grace Foundation-USA. She was recently featured in a documentary for ESPN Woman Latin America “Women that Inspire.” 

“Brown Girls Do Ballet is an important movement for this generation. Even with the rise of dancers like Misty Copeland, Michaela DePrince, and Ebony Williams, it’s good for upcoming dancers to also see dancers of their own age group. I love that it features an array of ages. Girls don’t just want to see who has already made it. They want to see girls who are in class, preparing for competition who look like them. Those images push you. It is groundbreaking, necessary, exciting to have something that we can hashtag and remind people that we really can do ballet. We have to let the world know we are unapologetically black and we can do what any other race can do. Brown Girls Do Ballet is empowering and inspiring. It’s a movement that has taken its place in the dance community. A lot of people know about it. It’s moving in the right direction, creating a more optimistic view of dance.” 

-Paige Fraser

Written for Brown Girls Do Ballet © Keda Sharber 2016 

Dance Dreams of Maryland: Sage Evans-Rainey Update

Courtesy:  Simply Supreme Photography

Courtesy:  Simply Supreme Photography

The Brown Girls Do Inc summer intensive scholarship program is a platform to help assist girls who have the talent, drive, and dedication, attend and participate in ballet companies' intensives, and workshops.

2016 scholarship recipient Sage Evans-Rainey, a dynamic Dancer from Baltimore M.D. embodies the vision of the Brown Girls Do Inc mission. The scholarship Sage earned assisted her in attending the world renowned Debbie Allen Dance Academy 2016 Summer Intensive.

“Last year, Brown Girls Do Ballet helped make a dream I had since I was 7  - come true. I went to the Debbie Allen Dance Academy and learned so much about myself as a person and a dancer. It was an amazing experience! It was fun! It was hard! I loved every minute of it!”- Sage Evans -Rainey

Recently Sage has auditioned for and earned invitations to the Dance Theatre of Harlem, Point Park University, and Debbie Allen Dance Academy 2017 Summer Intensive programs. 

Not only is Sage smart and a gifted dancer, she a has a heart of gold. Her belief that "every little dancer deserves a chance to dream big," inspired her to start her own nonprofit Dance Dreams of Maryland. Her nonprofit will assist developing dancers who have high aspirations, with tools and knowledge needed along their path to success. We are excited to be partnering with Sage and her family this year to present the 1st ever Dance Dreams of Maryland Scholarship. The special Dance Dreams of Maryland Summer Intensive Scholarship is a $250 scholarship given to dancers ages 9-18 who have been accepted to and have registered for a summer intensive program and exhibit financial need. Preference will be granted to an applicant who demonstrates financial need; however, we invite all who qualify to apply. This scholarship is intended to cover additional costs associated with dance needs (such as pointe shoes, leotards, travel expenses, etc.) This scholarship is open to the state of Maryland residents only. Apply can apply here through May 15th

We are so proud of Sage and cannot wait to see what she achieves in the future!

 Images courtesy of Evans family and Simply Supreme Photography

Introducing PowerPointe

PowerPointe is the dance culture's presentation delivered through multimedia journalism. PowerPointe seeks to partner with nonprofit organizations conducive to resources earmarking scholarships for dance tuition, summer intensive programs, and conferences.

PowerPointe's mission of the Multimedia Journalism division is to feature truthful and accurate stories/interviews on all dancers and any events, organizations or additional brands related to the dance world.

Partnerships with nonprofit organizations supporting the dance culture will include the implementation of fundraisers for scholarship money benefiting a dancer's tuition for dance institutions, studio time, fees for summer intensive programs and conferences.

Check out PowerPointe's feature of our annual fundraiser event, The Recital, below!

En Pointe 2017 Calendar

It's finally here! Brown Girls Do Ballet's 1st ever calendar is available now in the shop featuring images of professional dancers Addison Ector, Daphne Lee, and Amanda Smith along with several on the rise young ballerinas: Olivia Bell, Leilani Ivery, Najaah Malone, Amelya Rivera, Niya Sheppard, Brooke Terry, Kayla Thomas and Destiny Wimpye. With styling by Danielle Brown of Artisan By Trade and makeup by Zarielle, the calendar is a beautiful 12x12 are dance/art photography gift available just in time for Christmas. The calendar is being sold in limited quantities so get yours fast!

2016 Holiday Gift Guide

Looking for a gift for your Brown Ballerina? We are so excited to share some of our picks for this holiday season with our 2nd annual Holiday Gift Guide. This year we're going BIGGER, by going smaller. Sounds confusing, right? Not so much. Simply put, this year we've turned our focus on small businesses! As we all know, the small business is the life-blood and engine of the American economy. The small business world is also where some of the greatest innovative minds lie. Hey, the little computer company that some guy named Steve Jobs started was once a small business too. Just saying. Most importantly, the small businesses featured here offer wonderful, creative, and quality products for all to enjoy and the more we give to them, the more they're able to keep giving to us. Check it out below and click the links to shop these great brands!

Artist Spotlight: Keara Wilson, The Brown Ballerina

Keara Wilson is a 20-year-old photographer from Norfolk, VA.  Keara is currently pursuing her passion at Corcoran College of Art and Design at George Washington University where she decided to work towards a project called “The Brown Ballerina.”

African-American Ballerinas have broken barriers, gained international acclaim and contributed to ballet. To this day African-American ballerinas are not accepted into the dance culture. Brown Ballerinas are almost invisible, rarely in the spotlight, but Brown Ballerinas do exist. Dispelling the myths about how African –Americans are not equipped to be ballet dancers. “They say the ballerina should be the color of a peeled apple, but we also know that if the apple stays peeled to long, it turns brown, you have to have different shades of apples.” –Joan Myers Brown, Keara Wilson captures what the media leaves out. Beauty, Wealth, Wisdom, Strength, and Sacrifice, Amazingly her lens & vision does not always enable her to see things in color or black and white. Sometimes images are distorted but with her gift she manages to capture the truth and produces ART. Keara hopes to expand her knowledge in visual arts and aims to be a photography professor, art therapist and have a successful photography business.


The exhibition is currently at Corcoran Gallery of Art
500 17th street NW
November 2nd - November 20th
Exhibit Hours 1pm-6pm

You can find more of Keara 's work by visiting the links below.
Instagram: Kreativemsphotography
Website: www.kreative-mindsetphotography.com
FB: Kreative-Mindset Photography

Hurricane Matthew- Our Heart for Haiti

By: Brittani Marie

Nearly a year ago, I decided to take a journey of self-discovery and spend time in the first black republic, also known as Haiti.

San Souci Palace, Milot Haiti (the palace of slave-rebellion leader Henri Christophe, Sans-Souci Palace, Haiti)

San Souci Palace, Milot Haiti

(the palace of slave-rebellion leader Henri Christophe, Sans-Souci Palace, Haiti)


I suppose my spirit carried me to walk the footsteps of the many legends I’ve long admired. The Catherine Dunhue’s, Zora Neal Hurston’s, Martha Graham’s just to name a few. And while there, I got to teach english at a non-profit and learned about development efforts. It was one of the happiest seasons in my life.

The Ballerina’s Little Black Book was written in Haiti.

Which is why it’s particularly even more heartbreaking to witness this catastrophe only a few months after my departure. To see a country that changed your life suffer  brings an insurmountable level of distraught. Yet, I hope by sharing a snippet of my experience on this unique island our media so often misrepresents, you understand how and why you should help sustain what remains of our very first black republic.


Wahoo Beach 1.Haiti is a Beautiful Country

Wahoo Beach

1.Haiti is a Beautiful Country

Full of beautiful people. It’s forestry, breathtaking mountains and white sand beaches are still mesmerizing even for the locals. I think it’s important the world sees Haiti in it’s entirety so that we don’t become desensitized to the sad imagery that’s polluted our news for nearly a decade. Understand all that was destroyed by the storm.


Hundreds of people dying or displaced from the serene lands that bring them peace in an already unstable country. Haiti’s the type of place where smiles are infectious and the mother making fresh pate corde will give you a proverb to brighten your day.  Wisdom is generously shared. The children are untainted by our tech-obsessed world. They taught me how to find solace in the moment. They need our help more than ever.



2.  Food is Insanely Expensive in Haiti- though amazingly rich in flavor and cuisine (like New Orleans with a spanish twist.) But on average, I spent nearly $400+ on groceries at the local supermarkets and I don’t have any mouths to feed. Which perhaps explains the level of poverty. This is one reason why the land is so valuable. There is a large percentage of locals who have to produce their own food for consumption and profit.

3.     How to Really Help- Give to local Haitian relief organizations rather than large organizations. I will preface this by confirming as an American who lived there, locally run Haitian organizations have the expertise of how their country operates. They understand how to properly allocate resources for long-term use. Here’s a few trustworthy ones that are on the ground responding to crisis.

Haiti Communitere

The Lambi Fund

Gaskov Clerge Foundation

Project St. Anne







Coffee for a Cause

On October 1st, we celebrated International Coffee Day with the lovely Kenya Ross, Miss Black Caddo Parish in Shreveport, Louisiana! We are so proud that Kenya is actively spreading our mission along with her platform on the road to the Miss Black Louisiana Pageant this November in Baton Rouge. Marcus Mitchell, the owner of Bon Temps Coffee Bar, so graciously allowed us into his beautiful space and proceeds from coffee purchased during our stay were donated to the Brown Girls Do Ballet Scholarship Fund. We cannot thank both Kenya and Marcus enough for their big hearts and to all of the wonderful people who came out to contribute, you made our day! Be sure to check out some of the images shot by Mr. Brandon Fountain below and if you're in Baton Rouge, make sure to support Kenya on November 19th at Independence Park Theatre. you can purchase tickets here.

#TheGiveBack with Jayde pt#2

We had our first giveaway this past weekend!! What a great feeling it was to see so many smiling faces, not only because of the generous donations from so many, but people were happy to come together, to hug one another and share their stories of rebuilding from the flood that devastated Baton Rouge last month. Parents were able to pause while their kids played. There was laughter and genuine joy in the studio!

Mrs. Roxi fitting a little one for new baker shoes.

Mrs. Roxi fitting a little one for new baker shoes.

Dancers (and a few gymnasts too!) were able to get fitted with new dancewear and shoes and kids and moms were able to leave with a bag filled with boutique clothing from Matilda Jane. I left the event energized and ready to do more, but I need your help!

Jhayce Smith and I organizing donations.

Jhayce Smith and I organizing donations.

One of the dancers from En Pointe and I.

One of the dancers from En Pointe and I.

A family we were able to help.

A family we were able to help.

There’s still time for you to make a donation! We will have a second round of donations in a few weeks!

Amazon Wish List: Click Here

Items can also be sent to 1514 Stoneleigh Dr. Baton Rouge, La 70808

Special thanks to major contributors for our first round of donations:

  • Roxi Victorian/Ballet Victorian for hosting and helping to organize the event

  • Angelica and Jhayce Smith/Childish Couture Photography

  • Matilda Jane

  • Matt Steffanina

  • Nikki Godfrey

  • Longwood Performing Arts of Pennsylvania

  • International Association of Blacks in Dance

  • Camille Brown, Choreographer

  • Purpose Productions

  • University of California, African American Studies

  • Pampos Dance and Swimwear

  • Individual donations from anonymous donors


Notes from an Adult Struggling Beginner Ballerina- Part 1

I sat down to write this post several times, but all of the glamors of being a mom got in the way. A toddler was climbing on glass furniture, a toddler emptying Capri Suns on my freshly cleaned floors, a toddler opening all of his sister’s markers and creating artwork on my new walls. The usual. When I started Brown Girls I remember joking with a friend (Hey Toni) about taking a ballet class but I never found the time. So when my daughter’s ballet teacher announced adult ballet classes, I knew I had to take the leap. I’m excited to be sharing my journey as an adult BBT (Brown Ballerina in Training) for the organization. It gives me the chance to not only learn what my audience goes through, but it gives me the opportunity to see the business from a whole different perspective and remind me of the different ways that I’ve failed my body over the past “29”+ years. This post chronicles the events leading up to my 1st time ever taking a ballet class. I hope to continue to record my journey here on the blog, so check back often and see if I continue.
Photo Credit: Esther Huynh

Photo Credit: Esther Huynh

Hi, I’m TaKiyah. If we haven’t met in person, in 2012 as a photographer, I started shooting ballerinas of color. It’s since morphed into Brown Girls Do Ballet. Now, I get to add one more accomplishment to a list the size of a Post-It note...I’ve started ballet. Last week I nervously walked into my local Capezio store, found who I thought might be the least judgemental associate and had her walk me through everything I’d need for my 1st ballet class. I got fitted for shoes, she found my size in tights (a miracle in itself), and then I bravely wandered into a sea of leotards. In my mind, I’m still the size 4/6 that I was before two kids, but the 1st leotard I tried on quickly told me differently. Have you ever bought a sack of potatoes at the grocery store? You know how they sit in that plastic bag, all lumpy and heavy? That’s my butt in a leotard, a sack of potatoes. I knew right then I had work to do. The 1st part of the job was coming to grips with the fact that I was far from a size 4/6. My lovely sales associate then “suggested” the correct size (I complied even though my butt still resembled that sack of potatoes), made my purchases and left the store feeling empowered and ridiculous as the same time. Isn’t ballet for the young folks? The kids that have been dancing since they were 3? The ones that don’t have so much extra baggage in the back (read rear), and in life? Nevertheless, I was committed to at least trying.

Day 1 of Class:

7:30 am
On the morning of my 1st class, I thought I’d at least try and be mentally prepared by having a light breakfast and doing a little cardio. Honestly, I was thinking how embarrassing it would be to run a ballet organization and be the 1st person to tap out and sit on the floor before class ended.

For lunch, I met my mother who decided we should have Wienerschnitzel chili dogs for lunch. She was gracious enough to have already picked them up. She’s my mother. I had to eat 2. Food is my religion. You can’t offer me two chili dogs at lunch and not expect to me stand at that altar and partake. It was a terrible decision; I have no willpower and yes you can judge me. I documented my chili dog consumption on social media to let young people know that peer pressure is wrong and to hold myself accountable.

I had a light protein snack consisting of almonds, cheese cubes, and turkey. An excellent recovery effort but we all know the damage had already been done.

I got dressed in all of my new gear. I remember buying tights often for my daughter and thinking of how great dance tights seem to be at keeping everything in place. Perhaps even contouring if you will.  Tights are what keep Beyonce’ magical too right?  As soon as I put those tights on- my legs did this thing where they looked a little amazing. Like my thighs were still touching of course, but they weren’t fighting each other to move like they normally are. Thighs that fight each other in Texas during the summer are not fun.

 Class time. Now pay attention because this is where things get a little fuzzy in my memory. Not sure if it was due to hunger, too many chili dogs earlier in the day, or the fact that as much as I go to the gym, that I’m still so out of shape that both my brain and body have caved in on themselves. I seriously thought Melissa (our amazing instructor) would be going easy on us. We’re adults, most of us had never taken a ballet class ever, and it WAS the 1st class day. I was WRONG! I thought I was going to die right on those brand new wood floors! Below are some of the thoughts that occurred during that 1st 60-minute class:

-She said First Position; I know that one, perfect. Ballet...ha….I’ve got this.”
-Wait...1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th,...can we just do one position per class, I can’t keep up with this.

I’m really trying to point my toe, but my toe is insubordinate like my 2-year-old son.

-8 counts, 4 counts, 2 counts. Only counts that I’m good at remembering apparently are Count Chocula, Count Basie, and Count of Monte Cristo. Too many counts to keep up with.

-She said we could hold on to the barre for extra support. Why am I the only person hugging the barre?

-The lady next to me told me she has only taken a few barre classes but why is she dancing like Misty Copeland?!

-She wants us to do WHAT across the floor? How did I get put in line to go 1st? Jesus, please don’t let me die in front of all of these lovely people.

-There’s no clock in this room. How long has it been? Is it time for a water break yet? I'm sweating to death; I just know it.

-Lift my leg where? Why is this hurting so much?

-YES, Finally a water break! *looks at phone* It’s only been 30 minutes. OMG!!!!

-Holding this Passe’ is about to make me passe’ out.

-Okay, now she wants us to put all of that together. Crap I forgot how to count again!

8:00 pm

Class is over. I’m still alive. I did not die. I feel fantastic. I know this is a trick. I know that tomorrow I will need a walker but I’m excited and ready for the next class.

Photo Credit: Monica Gosselin

Photo Credit: Monica Gosselin




#TheGiveBack with Jayde

My parents always remind me of just how blessed we are and from a very young age made sure I knew how important it is to give back. We would often volunteer serving food at a local dining room that serves anyone in need in our community a hot, nutritious meal every day of the year. Especially on Easter, doing this has been a tradition since I was old enough to carry plates to tables. We also make brown bag lunches for kids that rely on free lunch at school who miss this service when school is out for summer break. Doing this, lead me to an organization that allows me to teach dance to kids every summer which I absolutely love!! There is nothing better than sharing my love of dance with kids in my community who might not be able to take dance without volunteers like me!
So, when we recently had historic flooding in my hometown of Baton Rouge, I immediately knew that I wanted to give back. So many people were giving to our community in general all of the things people will need to pick up the pieces following the flood- water, Gatorade, labor, cleaning supplies, food, etc. and I know that when things happen to me, as a dancer, I just want to dance. Dance helps me cope, helps me heal and helps me to express my emotions when words just won’t do. I wanted to help get people that love dance like I do back to dance as soon as they possibly can get in the studio, knowing that the last thing they or their parents will be thinking about is buying new dance clothes and shoes when their focus is rebuilding their home. So, I started collecting items from anyone that wanted to give and donating things of my own and my sister as well. Because of my relationship with Brown Girls Do Ballet, the owner of Ballet Victorian in Baton Rouge contacted my mom about partnering with Ballet Victorian for their “Stuff a Dance Bag” Initiative to support dance studios that flooded and their dancers. If you are reading this blog, I know that you love dance as much as I do! I hope that you consider making a donation of any kind! No donation is too big or too small. Thanks so much reading!! 

Items can be sent to 1514 Stoneleigh Dr., Baton Rouge, LA 70808. Here is a list of suggested items:

How do you give back in your community? I would love to hear from you!

IG: jaydeelise.5678

Email: JaydeWoodard@yahoo.com


Thank you so much!


Jayde <3

The Brown Ballerina Book Giveaway


"You can't be what you can't see."-Marian Wright Edelman

That's just what we're hoping to change with "The Ballerina's Little Black Book." From finding the right products to overcoming body-image issues, we've learned our young girls need to hear from ballerinas they can relate to. Help us give books to girls who need it the most!

This publication makes history as the first annual book for ballerinas of color. Our first edition focuses on resilence and purpose. Young girls will also learn how ballet encourages high academic performance and self respect, among countless other testimonials from empowering women of color. With insights from Aesha Ash to Alicia Graf Mack, the publication compiles a wealth of information sure inspire and answer many questions.

Our goal is to giveaway at least 100 books to dance studios, libraries and organizations to keep this treasure circulating for our young girls. We would greatly appreciate a donation, no matter how big or small! Every dollar counts. You can donate by visiting here.

We hope you join us in this journey, by following us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, where we will be posting pictures, videos, and status updates daily during the trip! Thank you for your support!

Summer Intensive Scholarship Winner: Sage Evans-Rainey

Sage Evans-Rainey is a young dancer from Baltimore, M.D. She attends Baltimore International Academy where she is a Russian major/French minor and maintains a 4.0 grade point average. She speaks Russian fluently and has been the state grand prize winner at the Russian Olympiada language competition for 5 straight years. This year, she earned national recognition as a 2016 Carson scholar and secured a college scholarship while in the eighth grade. Sage has also been recognized as a presidential scholar with declaration from President Obama; three times. She has officially secured the title of Valedictorian of her graduating class and will be delivering the final speech (in Russian) during the ceremony in June 2016. Sage is also a smart/phenomenal dancer. She has loved dance since the age of 2 and developed a passion for ballet while watching the Angelina Ballerina cartoon as a little girl. She trains at least 20 hours a week at Morton Street Dance Center. Sage also dances on a collegiate dance team where she was accepted by audition and declared the youngest ever (at age 12) ensemble intern at Morgan State University’s Dance Ensemble. She has accepted enrollment into Carver Arts and Technology High School in Towson, MD. Sage’s goals are to become a professional dancer and dance studio owner. She knows that this will take hard work and dedication to her craft.

We Congratulate Sage and wish her an exciting summer at Debbie Allen Dance Academy.

Photo credit: Dia's PhotoArt Makeup and Styling by Accessmatized

Photo credit: Dia's PhotoArt

Makeup and Styling by Accessmatized

Annual Summer Intensive Scholarship

The Brown Girls Do Ballet 2016 Summer Intensive Scholarship Application is Live

The annual Brown Girls Do Ballet Summer Intensive Scholarship is a $500 scholarship given to young dancers ages 9-18 that have been accepted, have registered for a summer intensive program, and exhibit financial need. This scholarship is intended to cover additional costs associated with dance needs (e.g. pointe shoes, leotards, travel expenses, etc.)

Application period begins May 1, 2016 and closes May 31, 2016. Winner will be notified by June 10, 2016. To apply visit here.

The Ballerina's Little Black Book




A collection of inspiring interviews and striking photography, from prominent brown ballerinas.

1st Edition

With over 90,000 fans, countless ballerina interviews and more, Brown Girls Do Ballet® has identified the missing strand to diversifying this classical performing art: a resource that speaks to their identity. The Ballerina's Little Black Book compiles a wealth of stories, advice and training information directly from the women who are breaking down barriers. Aspiring ballerinas can read messages from famed dancers like Aesha Ash, Alicia Graf Mack and even a personal message from none other than Misty Copeland.

Filled with wisdom, solutions, and powerful visuals, The Ballerina's Little Black Book is the ultimate handbook for ballerinas of color.  Check out the trailer below and get your copy here.

Tiny Dancer Book Club Is Here!

The Tiny Dancer book Club is here! A special Brown Girls Do Ballet club for our younger budding ballerinas that provides the opportunity to explore dance, while building a love of reading with dance themed books. This club is designed especially for young readers ages 4-8! Each month a new book will be announced for the following month. Girls will have time to gather their books and then have the chance to be invited to a virtual book club meeting facilitated by a Brown Girls Do Ballet Ambassador. We are excited just thinking about the cuteness! If you're interested in signing your cutie up check back soon.*list is now closed.

* Edited 5/1/2016 Due to the overwhelming popularity of the The Tiny Dancer Book Club, we have closed the list signup until a later date. Check back soon to be added.