I was on instagram doing what we do on instagram, posting photos of my day to day. One particular Saturday I was sitting in my daughter’s ballet class (yes, I’m a stalker mom who waits IN class and IN the parking lots of school for her to be released) and I posted a picture of her “dancing” in ballet. She’s never doing exactly what her ballet instructor wants. She’s almost always in her own zone doing a variation of what was asked. I knew very early on that she’d be a free spirit and as much as it probably bothers others, I love that about her. Anyhoo…After posting the photo a friend of mine commented “That’s right, brown girls do ballet too!” It was a light bulb moment. You see after months of trying to find a new dance studio for the kid- I’d already noticed you don’t see very many “brown girls” in ballet. Pick up any dance magazine or better yet- GO to a major ballet production and count them. They are a rarity. I’d been photographing both my daughter and my 5 year old niece in their ballet gear, so excited to be dancing, but it wasn’t until that “whisper” on an instagram photo that a title was born to what I’d been doing and seeing. Brown Girls Do Ballet was going to be my January 2013 project. The initial plan for the project was to find 12 brown girls enrolled in ballet programs across Texas and photograph them. I handled it the way that I always handle my casting calls- I threw the notice up on facebook. What happened within 30 minutes blew and continues to blow my mind. My small little photo project exploded. It wasn’t supposed to be a movement. It wasn’t supposed to gain national attention, it wasn’t supposed turn into a full on foundation. I just wanted to capture doll faced brown girls doing a dance they loved…ballet. I invite you to follow this project that has turned into more of a journey than a destination and I’d like to thank the wonderful moms, my photo sisters, and former dancers that are helping to MOLD this into what will be part of both mine and their legacies. Brown Girls DO Ballet.
with love, takiyah wallace (founder Brown Girls DO Ballet)