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.
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"]