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. 

Scoliosis. 

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