Holiday Gift Guide

holidaygiftguide
holidaygiftguide

'Tis the season! Finding gifts for young brown ballerinas can be a task. We've tried to make your holiday shopping a little bit easier with this year's Brown Girls Do Ballet Holiday Gift Guide.  This guide has a bunch of affordable gifts your budding brown ballerina will love. Check out a few of our favorite things below:

1. Pottery Barn Kids understands diversity! We love their ballerina bedding and Mackenzie Glitter Ballerina backpacks.

2. Coco Pie Clothing has the cutest tees for you brown ballerina on the go! The Kennedy tee is one of our favorites!

3. Konjo Handmade has some the most adorable handmade dolls we've ever seen, made with love by a mom who wanted to make dolls that looked like her kiddos. That's something we can get behind.

4. Fela and Friends Handmade - Another handmade doll that we adore, Fela and Friends would make a cute gift for a tiny ballerina! Our favorite doll is the Cece.

5. Ballet Dreams- The amazing true story of Michaela DePrince, a top ballerina, is a great gift for a young dancer. The book is leveled for newly independent readers and full of great images showing Michaela's rise to fame.

6. Little Miss Dancey Pants Addison is a lively and energetic little girl, who has a very hard time keeping still. Deep down, Addison knows she is a star, but it is not until her mom recognizes her natural ability that Addison is encouraged to explore her true potential as a dancer. This story is a perfect book to add to a young dancer's collection.

7. 100 Halos by Everett Dyson -Artist Everett Dyson has put together an amazing sketch collection of ballerinas. A great gift for dancers and non-dancers alike. You can purchase prints and tote bags here.

8. Brown Girls Do Ballet- We've got stuff! Stay on pointe with our Stay On Pointe campaign tanks, kid tees, and mugs!

9. Tru-Colour Bandages -Brown Ballerinas get boo boos too and that's were Tru-Colour comes in! Created by a dad wanting to find a bandage in his son's skin tone, Tru-Colour bandages promote diversity in healing.  This perfect stocking stuffer can be found here.

10. Kinetic Essentials -Kinetic Essentials is a dance apparel and accessory boutique located in Los Angeles. Their HUEpolish provides easy flesh tone coloring for canvas ballet and pointe shoes. They offer a full Dance Package as well, that includes HUEpolish, Muscle Rub, Hot/Cold Therapy Pack, and Physical Therapy Balls!

11. Mahogany Blues Dance Apparel- Brown Ballerinas come in shades so not just any generic nude will do! Mahogany Blues Dance Apparel is filling the gap by providing custom nude leos in your shade of brown. You can place your order by visiting  www.mbdanceapparel.com.

12. Tulia Art -another favorite, carries ballerina themed tote bags and colorful ballerina prints that any dancer would love to receive as a gift.

Brown Ballerina Spotlight: Eliana Vaha'i Fe'ao

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At just 14, Eliana Vaha'i Fe'ao is making her mark on the ballet world while honoring her Tongan heritage in a big way!  We were so excited when she agreed to chat with us! Check out our interview with Eliana Vaha'i Fe'ao below:

BGDB: When did you begin taking dance lessons? At what point did you realize it was your passion?

EVF: I took my first real ballet class when I was 11 after I injured my elbows and had to leave Gymnastics. I picked it up quickly but it took time for me to fall in love with it. It wasn’t until my first time performing the Nutcracker with Ballet West that I started to really fall in love. There’s just something about being on stage for a huge audience and bringing a ballet to life!

BGDB: What influences did ballet have on your childhood?

EVF: My parents both grew up in poverty and things like ballet just weren’t part of their childhood. My mom wanted me to have more exposure to the arts then she’d had. I watched my first Nutcracker in San Diego when I was 2 years old. I loved watching ballets, but I never thought seriously about being a ballerina because as long as I could remember I had been a gymnast, training to compete for Tonga in the Olympics one day.

BGDB: How do you honor your culture in pursuing ballet/dance?

EVF: The Kingdom of Tonga is a small island nation with a proud tradition of exploration. I see what I'm doing as one of the first Tongan ballet dancers as an exploration. When I first started dancing I never thought that I was a pioneer, that I would make history, or become a role model. That’s the power of ballet though! This summer I was invited to perform the first classical ballet variation danced in Tonga as part of the coronation. You can’t imagine how thrilling, humbling, and terrifying that was! It’s amazing at my age and while still training as a ballet dancer to have these opportunities and to be in a position to influence others. I get messages from Tongan kids around the world who are now starting ballet classes for the first time. I tell them to always remember who they are and where they come from – to not try and fit in but to stand out and be proud of our heritage and who we are. Tongans are brown skinned, muscular people. We don’t fit the image most people have when they think of ballet. So what! Let’s change the image. Let’s be so good that they can’t ignore us!

BGDB: How do you believe the dance world has shaped you as a young woman?

What learning experiences can young girls gain from exposure to Ballet? Do you believe that ballet can change lives, if so how?

EVF: Ballet absolutely changed my life! I lived a real life fairy tale this summer. I danced for royalty at a coronation ball, attended royal feasts, and saw things I thought were only in story books. I am fortunate to have fans and supporters who send me their love and support every day. I have a chance to help and inspire other girls like me and to be a good example for Pasifika youth. Ballet made that happen! Ballet is so much more then what happens on stage! I wish every young girl – and boy – could take at least a year of ballet classes, even if they don’t want to be professionals. Our world is so fast paced and overwhelmed with technology. Taking just an hour away from that to go somewhere artistic, pure, and beautiful like the world of ballet can change everything by offering a new perspective and connection to something greater then ourselves.

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ElianaFeao1

BGDB: Can you share with us some advice for parents and young girls alike who are interested in pursuing Ballet?

EVF: My family’s not rich. In fact, we've struggled a lot this last year when my father, who is a disabled Marine Corps veteran, couldn’t continue working. My parents used up their savings to keep me in ballet. My mom sold her clothing to pay for my pointe shoes. I was at the barre in class with girls talking about their European vacations while I was wondering if we were going to be evicted that day and hoping my pointe shoes wouldn’t break down before my mom could find a way to get new ones. I see the miracles my mom pulls off every day to keep me training – all while caring for my special needs brother and my father. To the last second I didn’t think we were going to make it to the coronation in Tonga this summer but she barked up every tree in the forest to make it happen. If you’re serious about wanting a career as a ballet dancer, don’t let any obstacles stand in your way. Maybe your obstacles aren’t financial – maybe they’re physical or mental – the point is don’t let anything stop you. Be realistic about what it takes and whether you’re willing to pay the price and once you decide to go for it don’t stop until you get there. When you doubt or get tired, think of the next generation of little brown girls who's dance journeys will be made that much better because of what you are doing today!

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performingatcoronationball

BGDB: What are your long term goals in the dance world?

EVF: My long term goal is to be the prima of a big company and to dance the major ballets! But just as important to me is to bring ballet to the Kingdom of Tonga and to make it more accessible here in America. Performing in Tonga this summer opened my eyes to a lot of things. Dance is a massive and ancient part of Tongan culture and yet there is not a single dance studio in the country! I am proud that traditional Tongan dance will always be very important in our culture but there are many kids who are passionate about other dance styles as well who have to gather on the street or wherever they can to teach themselves. I realized it wasn’t that different for the kids in Tonga then it had been for my parents growing up here. There are too many children with no more access to ballet in the United States then those kids in Tonga have. Ballet may have started out as a dance for the elite but it can’t stay that way and survive. Dance companies and schools need to do a far better job of reaching beyond the barriers that keep ballet exclusive and make greater efforts to be inclusive and reflect the diversity of the world around us. That’s my true passion!

You can follow Eliana:

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Photographer Spotlight: Jenni Woods

JW(1)Brown Girls Do Ballet® was started by a photographer who wanted to see more ballerinas of color in mainstream media. We now have many goals but one that we will always be committed to- is featuring both dancers of color and the photographer's that take up the challenge of capturing them. Dance photography is not for the weak, it requires much research, and the dancers themselves need to be aware of their bodies/technique. Our 1st ever blog photographer feature goes to photographer Jenni Woods, who took the challenge of photographing 3 amazing Howard University ballerinas featured in our 28 Days of Dance project. Jenni Woods is a Portrait and Wedding Photographer, focusing on "Life, Love, and Art". Her primary focus is to create and document priceless moments today to be cherished tomorrow. Based in Oklahoma City, OK but willing to travel the world, Jenni operates a fun and friendly business and is always looking forward to meeting and working with new fabulous people. You can view Jenni's images below and purchase limited edition prints from this collection here.

[Best_Wordpress_Gallery id="3" gal_title="Jenni Woods- Washington D.C."]

 

You can follow Jenni Woods by visiting the following:

website

facebook

instagram

Let's Hear It For the Boys : Davon Doane

One of the first pieces of feedback that we received from a fan online was "What about the brown boys that do ballet?" Our solution was to honor our male counterparts on Fridays in a series that we call 'Let's Hear It For the Boys!' This week we have a treat, a guest piece from Sarita Lou of 'For the Love of Dance' featuring Davon Doane!

For the Love of Dance is an original arts web series celebrating diverse dances in New York City!  Filmed during Summer 2014, Season One episodes include Principal dancers Lloyd Knight and Masha Dashkina-Maddux of the Martha Graham Dance Company, Salsa with Talia Castro-Pozo, Swing Dancing with Roddy Caravella, "It's Showtime" - Bboys on the A Train, Broadway Dance with Saycon Sengbloh, Zumba with Gerard Patalano, and the 8th Annual Dance Parade!

Today's episode features Davon Doane of Dance Theatre of Harlem.  He takes us into the heart of Harlem and shows us how DTH and the Harlem neighborhood are intrinsically connected.  He also tells us his story of how he came to NYC to pursue his dreams.  I personally love this episode and am so proud the BGDB is sharing it with you!

We are currently in pre-production for Season Two, so get in touch with us if you have ideas for episodes you'd like to see!  You can email me, your host, Sarita Lou at saritaloudance@gmail.com :)  And until next time, keep dancing!" -Sarita Lou

Brown Ballerina Spotlight: Q & A Olivia Boisson

Photo: Matthew Johnson
Photo: Matthew Johnson

Born in Queens, New York to Haitian immigrants, Olivia Boisson is no stranger to overcoming obstacles.  In 2012 as an apprentice, Olivia Boisson was the first African-American woman to join New York City Ballet in over a decade. She is currently a member of  New York City Ballet’s corps de ballet and we had the absolute honor to interview her despite her very busy schedule.

BGDB: When did you begin taking dance lessons? At what point did you realize it was your passion? OB:I started dancing when I was 6 years old. My mother started me in ballet because she used to do various forms of dance and always admired ballerinas. I realized that ballet was my passion after a serious knee injury that left me unable to dance for a year. I was 13 years old at that time and experiencing life without ballet fueled my determination to heal and continue training to become a professional.

BGDB:What influences did ballet have on your childhood? OB: Ballet has always been an outlet for me to express and be myself while also allowing me to grow and discover more about myself. It was very important during my childhood since I was very shy. I have learned discipline, focus, and how to challenge myself.

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BGDB:Our project focuses on highlighting unrepresented minorities in Ballet. Why do you think minorities are not well involved in this performing art? What are some of challenges you may have faced as a "brown ballerina" or a dancer in general? OB:I think the reason minorities are not well represented in this performing art is because the there is not much exposure in minority communities. Another issue is that the younger generation does not have enough brown ballet dancers for role models. A challenge I have faced as a "brown ballerina" is feeling that there were a lot of leading roles in ballets that I would love to do, but didn't see myself performing, but seeing Misty Copeland perform Swan Lake makes me feel that now it is possible for me.

BGDB: How do you believe the dance world has shaped you as a young woman? What learning experiences can young girls gain from exposure to Ballet? Do you believe that ballet can change lives, if so how? OB: The dance world taught me strength and how not to give up. Ballet has taught me grace and poise as young woman. Young girls introduced to ballet can learn about classical music, costumes, set design, movement, and the inspiration behind so many ballets. Ballet is a difficult but beautiful world filled with passion and I think it can definitely change lives. I can't imagine doing anything else with my life that makes me feel more complete. People spend more than half their lives searching for a career that they are passionate about and ballet can be that for so many people.

BGDB: Can you share with us some advice for parents and young girls alike who are interested in pursuing Ballet? OB: I think the best advice I can impart to young girls, is to make sure that, for however long you dance, you are always dancing for the love of dance and that the number one person to keep happy is yourself.

BGDB: What are your long term goals in the dance world? OB: My long term goals are to become a principal dancer with the New York City Ballet. From there I would love to use my recognition to share my knowledge of the dance world with younger dancers, and be a role model for all young dancers minority or not.[Best_Wordpress_Gallery id="2" gal_title="Olivia Boisson"]

Mahogany Blues Dance Apparel

E & C Photography
E & C Photography

We are so excited to finally announce our partnership with Whitney Bracey, Fashion Designer and Founder of Mahogany Blues Swimwear and now Mahogany Blues Dance Apparel. Whitney is currently a senior at Texas Woman's University and will graduate with a BA in Fashion Design in the Spring of 2016, but already highly accomplished in the fashion world. As early as the age of 7, Whitney learned to sew. Born with a natural desire to design and style, she would cut up socks & t-shirts to make custom outfits for her Barbie Dolls. After mastering the art of designing doll clothing, Whitney followed the natural progression to designing and sewing custom clothes for herself in high school.

Following high school graduation, Whitney found a niche in designing fashion forward designer swimwear by teaming up with a friend who owned a custom suit business. Her friend later dissolved that business, but Whitney, remaining true to her relentless work ethic, did not stop pushing the limits of swimwear design. She continued to create and sell her products. Realizing her designs needed a brand to be associated with in order to break mainstream retail, Whitney launched “Mahogany Blues Swimwear” in 2010.

Since then, Whitney has created amazing custom swimwear pieces for professional athletes like the Olympian Natasha Hastings, national recording artists, brands such as Holler USA, and a vast variety of clientele which seek her out for the perfect look only she can bring to her clients. You can view Whitney’s swimwear collection here. Her designs have been featured with Texas Next Top Designer, Fashion Week San Diego, Pool Side Beauty for Dallas Modern Luxury Magazine, and The Pin Show.

This year, in revolutionary efforts to evolve from an era of dyeing and pancaking leotards, comes Mahogany Blues Dance Apparel. MB Dance Apparel is the only company in the United States to offer multi-tonal nude leotards. “Our mission is to provide nude leotards for dancers of color because we believe that they are worth it.” Whitney is proud to be working with the Brown Girls Do Ballet® organization, which helps bring well-deserved attention to dancers of color.

This past March, Whitney  traveled to Los Angeles with the intentions of attending Style Week and doing a photoshoot for the leotards using adult ballerinas. After posting a casting call in which she asked the dancers to tell her more about themselves, Whitney became inspired by dancer Nicole Brown and Nicole's dance school, Nu Trailblazers School of the Arts. "I stayed in contact with Nicole and continued to ask more questions about her dance school. After falling in love with her motto and organization, I offered to donate nude leotards to her dancers. We worked mostly through email with her sending measurements and pictures of all of her girls. I matched skin-tones and made custom leos based off of that information. Nicole thought that it would be a great idea to use the leos for their summer showcase, so on June 1, 2015, I traveled back to LA to do a fitting and to meet all of the girls as well as their parents. It was a really great experience! I delivered the packages for each girl and they were extremely excited and loved everything! I hired a photographer, E and C Photography, to take pictures during their showcase so that I could see it since I couldn't physically be at the performance. It was great!"

E & C Photography
E & C Photography

After doing more research about the lack of variety in nude for people of color, Whitney felt that she needed to offer more than just a leotard. So with this in mind she decided to create a ballerina care package for every class that will receive donations from her in the future. "The classes will be chosen at random (not limited to a specific state or city) and there will only be 1 class gifted each year. To get these care packages in order I teamed up with TRU Colour Bandages whose mission is to provide bandages for people of color. I also teamed up with Pan Ector Industries in Denton, TX to create custom t-shirts for each dancer that we reach with this project. Lastly, I brought TuTu Cute on board to create a beautiful custom tutu for each dancer, because who doesn't love a tutu?! Hopefully in the future I will be able to offer compression tights/stockings that vary in brown shades with each package."

To find out more information and to be the first to know the official Mahogany Blues Dance Apparel launch date:  visit their website: http://www.mbdanceapparel.com/

 All Images Courtesy of E & C Photography

Brown Ballerina Spotlight: Q&A with Leah Simpson

Leah Simpson IMG_3712is a brown ballerina and proud owner of the Monet School of Ballet located in Jacksonville, Florida. We learned of Leah's story in the very beginnings of the Brown Girls Do Ballet Project and have been keeping up with her ever since. We are so excited to share her story with the world and we hope she inspires you the way that she's inspired us and each young dancer she meets.  Check out the interview below:

 Q:  When did you begin taking dance lessons and when did you realize it was your passion?

A: I began dancing at the age of three. It was always a prominent component of my life, but I didn't discover my devout passion for ballet until the age of 13.

Q:  What influences did ballet have on your childhood?

A: Ballet taught me the importance and beauty of etiquette, poise, respect, gracefulness, and much more.

Q:  Our project focuses on highlighting unrepresented minorities in Ballet. Why do you think minorities are not well involved in this performing art? What are some of the challenges you may have faced as a "brown ballerina"?

A: Some minorities do not have a significant presence in the ballet world due to the lack of representation of people of color in prominent companies and media outlets. I've also noticed that many people are not open to the idea of taking ballet; it takes a certain type of person to pursue ballet. The main challenge I faced as a young girl of color was that I did not fit the stereotypical aesthetic of a ballet dancer. I had a large bust and I was very muscular. I was told that modern would be more suitable, but I was dedicated to pursuing ballet! I believed that anything was possible. My motto was to go for it without fear! You can do anything you set your mind to.

 Q: How do you believe the dance world has shaped you as a young woman/girl? What learning experiences can young girls gain from exposure to Ballet?

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A: Dance has given me strength, dedication, discipline, and great work ethic. Now that I am the owner of Monet School of Ballet I tell my students that ballet is the foundation of all forms of dance. Ballet is truly where my passion lies. I believe that it can change someone's character, and also teaches them discipline; which needed to be successful in ballet and life. Ultimately, it can change a life.

Q: Can you share with us some advice for parents and young girls alike who are interested in pursuing Ballet?

A: Parents who are considering enrolling their child into a ballet class should know that every single class matters. Be consistent, support your child, and remember behind every dedicated dancer are a dedicated parents and teachers.

Q: What led you to forming the Monet School of Ballet?

A: During my senior year, I incurred a tibia stress fracture. I had the opportunity to study Ballet Pedagogy at The Hartt School, on scholarship, but I was unable to attend due to my reoccurring injury. So, I decided to move back to Florida where I found a Doctor who told me that I would not be able to dance at the level of intensity and surgery was not recommended. Ultimately, it was my choice. After much thought, prayer, and guidance from my mom, I decided that I would not study dance. It was a difficult and painful decision to make because ballet was my life. I did not know what else to do. It was a difficult road, but now I am at peace. I miss training and performing, but everything happens for a reason. I couldn't see it then, but I can see it now. After some time, I decided to open my own ballet school. I went to speak with the Dance Director of my performing arts middle school and then the Monet School of Ballet was born!FullSizeRender(1)Q: What are some of the challenges you might be facing running Monet School of Ballet and how can the public help?

A: What I've noticed since opening my ballet school is that some parents are not able to pay for ballet lessons. Fortunately, I have been able to provide free ballet lessons to single moms, and I currently have three scholarship students. I feel that all children should have equal opportunities to participate in arts programs, no matter what their parent’s financial circumstances are. My mission is to give back to my community, with hopes to receive donations to our scholarship fund to help those in need. I want all of the students who walk through my doors to know that this is their second home.phontoYou can learn more about Leah Simpson and her program by visiting her website www.monetballet.com and her facebook: www.facebook.com/Monetballet

Legendary Artists Highlights - Charmaine Hunter

Charmaine Hunter- Bio Pic Charmaine Hunter

Charmaine Hunter, world renowned performer, teacher, coach, and advocate of early childhood education through the arts, began her dance journey at the Hartford Ballet School under the direction of Michael Uttoff and Enid Lynn in Hartford, Connecticut. After a year of intense classical training at the Hartford Ballet School, she moved to New York City to study with Arthur Mitchell, founder of the Dance Theatre of Harlem and Karel Shook Director of the DTH School. Ms. Hunter studied under the tutelage of Karel Shook, Victoria Simon, Alvin Ailey, Suzanne Farrell, Tanaquil LeClerque, Carmen DeLavellade, Mary Hinkson, and William Griffithof National Ballet of Canada.

Progressively, with hard work, consistency, and dedication, she rose through the ranks and emerged quickly from apprentice to corps de ballet, and eventually became a Principal Dancer of Dane Theater of Harlem. She electrified audiences in a broad spectrum of roles and is best known for her role as the Firebird, choreographed by John Taras, and Medea, choreographed by Michael Smuin. From a young age, she had the determination to make her dreams a reality. 

Charmaine Hunter- Picture 2     During her 25 years with Dance Theater of Harlem, Charmaine served as a guest artist for several companies in the U.S. and Europe and has performed for luminaries such as United Stated Presidents, Quincy Jones, Bill Cosby, Oprah Winfrey, Nelson Mandela, and Cicely Tyson.  She appeared on world stages as one of Americas leading dancers, in countries such as Germany, Spain, Italy, Australia, Hong Kong, Israel, Brazil, and Greece. Breaking down global racial barriers and proving that African-American women were more than capable of embodying the essence of the ballerina.

Although CharmCharmaine Hunter- Pic 3aine enjoyed performing and sharing her light with the world, she always found a way to foster the next generation. Concomitantly, she, along with a group of company members, spearheaded the now famous DTH outreach program, Dancing through Barriers, with Arthur Mitchell. The mission was to share ballet with young people in underdeveloped countries and their motto was “given the opportunity, anyone can shine.”

Charmaine has recently accepted the position of Director of the Professional Division at Texas Ballet Theater, in Dallas/Fort Worth, working closely with Artistic Director Ben Stevenson (AD Emeritus of Houston Ballet) and Kathy Warakomsky-Li Director of TBT School.

     She is truly an inspiration to brown girl’s everywhere, continuously teaching and mentoring young influential dancers while sharing her passion and love for ballet.Charmaine Hunter- Pic 4

5 To Watch

Poised perfection, the following 5 dancers have been on our radar since very early on. 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 our very first '5 to Watch'.

Olivia Winston

Photographer: takiyah wallace
Photographer: takiyah wallace

Olivia Winston is one of those girls who was just born to dance and move! She began her dance training at the age of three at her neighborhood studio where she studied tap, jazz, and ballet. At the age of four, after spending about a year balancing on her head, doing back-bends, and self-taught one-armed cartwheels up and down the field at her older brother’s flag-football games, her parents also enrolled her in the pre-TOPPS program at USA Gymnastics, where she was fortunate to spend time training with Natasha Tokareva, a former Russian National Coach and her husband and training partner, Yuri Tokarev, medal-winning athlete for the USSR.

Many summers were spent in the gym and at local dance camps training in a variety of dance genres, but upon attending Ballet West Academy’s summer program at the age of eight, she discovered that her true love was ballet. She auditioned for the role of buffoon in Ballet West’s production of The Nutcracker that fall and hasn’t looked back since.

As an Academy member, Olivia has been fortunate to dance many roles in company productions including Aladdin, The Little Mermaid, and Sleeping Beauty. She was privileged to be in a commercial for the Academy last year and represent the Academy while competing in YAGP for the first time this winter. She is currently an intermediate student in Ballet West Academy's pre-professional division.

Summers are now spent at ballet intensives: Ballet West and Joffrey NYC Young Dancer in 2013 and Ballet West/University of Utah and ABT Austin in 2014. She is very much looking forward to spending this summer at ABT NYC.

In addition to her own ballet training, Olivia recently began volunteering weekly in Ballet West's adaptive dance program, "Movement Mentor," which pairs advanced Academy students with students with various special challenges for a one-on-one dance experience.

Olivia is grateful that she is studying ballet during a time that there are so many wonderful role models for Brown Ballerinas. Some of the dancers she looks up to include Misty Copeland of ABT (whom she is hoping to get even a tiny glimpse of this summer!), Ingrid Silva, of Dance Theatre of Harlem, whom she has had the privilege to meet and see perform, and Katlyn Addison, Demi-Soloist at Ballet West and her “big sis.”

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DSC_1201-Edit

Chynna Jaide Prescott

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DSC_5713-Edit-2

Chynna Jaide Prescott lives in Cypress, California. She is eleven years old and in the sixth grade. Chynna currently receives her dance training at Impact Dance Center located in Los Alamitos, California. She has danced with Impact since the age of three, has been a member of their competition team since the age of six, and a member of their Ballet Conservatory since the age of seven. Chynna currently trains six days a week in Ballet, Pointe, Jazz, Lyrical, Tap, Hip Hop, and Acro.

Chynna has been extended invitations to several summer intensives including: School of American Ballet New York 2015, School of American Ballet California 2014 and 2015, The Rock School for Dance Education, Joffrey San Francisco,  and Maple Conservatory of Dance Summer Intensive for Intermediate/Advanced just to name a few.

She has been fortunate to perform at the Hollywood Vibe National Finals Gala 2014-Ensemble,  Disneyland (2013 and 2014), and has also performed as Clara in the The Nutcracker, Figaro in 'Pinocchio', Impact Dance Center's Ballet Conservatory Spring Shows 2012-2015, Various Dance Competitions & Nationals (2009-2014), and Impact Dance Center's Winter Fantasy (2007-2014).

Chynna is proud to have trained under the tutelage of Andrea Brache, Michelle Hamilton, Melissa Sandvig, Ana Falley, Jesse Gonzales, Catherine Conrad Gray, Hailey Bundrant, Nancy Kindorf, Shawn Kurilko, Shawn Kindorf, Aisha Gibbs, Jason Gorman, Victoria Acker, Tawny Chapman, Chadd Moreau, and Sarah Rayburn.

Young but accomplished, Chynna has received several awards including: Velocity Nationals Scholarship Recipient (2015), LADanceMagic Year-long Scholarship Recipient (2013 and 2015), Hollywood Vibe "Team Hollywood Vibe" Year-long Scholarship Recipient (2014), LADanceMagic "Magic Performer of the Weekend" Scholarship Recipient (2014), Spotlight Dance Down Sapphire Recipient (2014), CoDance/NRG Regional Scholarship Recipient (2014), Hollywood Vibe Nationals Scholarship Recipient (2014),  and CoDance Regional Scholarship Recipient (2013).

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Izalbella Duran-Soriano

Milano photography
Milano photography

Izabella is a native of Ceres, California where she attends Central West Ballet Academy under the direction of both Rene Daveluy & Ballet Mistress Leslie Larson, where she is enrolled in Ballet, Jazz & Tap classes. She is currently also is enrolled at Steps Dance Arts Center, where she received her foundation of dance under the direction of Ms. Charlotte Ewing & April Doran, where she takes Ballet, Tap, Hip Hop and Jazz. Izabella also has additional training in an array of traditional/regional dances from Mexico with Ballet Folklorico Viva Mexico under the direction of Norma Torres-Manriquez.

Izabella has attended numerous Summer intensives: (2008-2010) Summer - Ballet San Jose -(Director Lise LaCour), (2011-2012) Summer - Central California Summer Dance Conservatory-(Director David Arce), (2012-2013) Summer - Contra Costa Ballet -(Director Richard Cammack), (2012-2014) Summer - Central West Ballet -(Director Rene’ Daveluy), (2014-2015) Houston Ballet – (Director Stanton Welch). Izabella has also attended master classes at ABT West & Ballet San Jose as well as workshops with Dance Master of California-(Chapter 13). Izabella has performed the lead of “Alice” in Alice in Wonderland in (2010) for Steps Dance Arts Center, “Clara” in the 2012 Nutcracker for Central West Ballet-(Resident company of the Gallo Performing Arts Center), 2013 guest artist as “Ballerina Doll” for Central West Ballet, “Cinderella” in 2014 for Steps Dance Arts Center, and “Sugar Plum Fairy” 2014 Nutcracker at Steps Dance Arts Center.

When Izabella isn’t in class herself she is a teacher’s assistant/demonstrator with the Turlock Parks & Rec./Dance Etc. Program and the Ceres Parks & Rec./Dance Program hosted by Steps Dance Arts Center, all under the direction of Charlotte Ewing.

"Ballet is where my heart lives and my home is at the barre, the world of ballet changes every day and I want to be a part of that change, and that takes having no fear, be willing to take a risk, good training and technique, only I can make my ballet dreams come true."- Izabella Soriano-Duran

Photographer Amanda J. Alvares
Photographer Amanda J. Alvares

Olivia Bell

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She’s 10, she’s tenacious, and she’s ready to take the dance world by storm! Olivia Bell, a native of Arlington, Texas, enjoys all of dance, but she loves Ballet the most. She began dancing when she was just two years old, and has aspired to be a professional dancer since she could say the words, “professional dancer.” She attends Fort Worth Academy of Fine Arts where she studies dance during the school day, and is a member of the Junior Dance Company. Outside of school, she studies ballet, jazz, tap, African and modern dance at Dian Clough West School of Dance and Dallas Black Dance Academy, and is a member of the Junior Performing Ensemble at Dallas Black Dance Academy. In 2014, Olivia spent the summer dancing on scholarship in New York at the Dance Theater of Harlem Summer Intensive, where she performed a work by Arthur Mitchell and received special recognition for outstanding achievement in African dance. In 2015, she was accepted to and plans to attend the American Ballet Theatre Young Dancer Summer Workshop in New York. Olivia has received many awards and scholarships for dance, and recently was named Regional Elite Dancer by West Coast Dance Explosion.

Katoiya Bell
Katoiya Bell

Alysia Johnson

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Alysia Johnson is a native of Dallas, Texas where she attended Booker T. Washington HSPVA under the direction of Lily Weiss. Her initial training was received at the Dallas Black Dance Theatre’s Academy where she was enrolled in ballet, modern, jazz and African. She currently attends The Juilliard School as a freshman dance major. She has performed works by Dwight Rhoden, Christian Von Howard, Christopher Huggins, Bruce Wood, and Robert Battle. Ms. Johnson received additional training and studied abroad at Lines Ballet, School of American Ballet, Dance Theatre of Harlem, and Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre. She has also performed as a guest artist with Dallas Black Dance Theatre I and DBDT II in their 2013-2014 season. Alysia was a 2009-2012 recipient of the Texas Young Master Scholarship Award along with winning a National Merit title from the Young Arts foundation.