A FORMER BALLERINA
Like most, I flirted with the dance world when I was much younger than I am now by taking jazz and ballet classes. I absolutely loved wearing my baby pink leotard, tights, ballet shoes and, most especially, my tutu but was even more enamoured by the thought of me one day becoming a Prima Ballerina - not that I knew what that even meant.
I distinctly remember the day my dance teacher broke the news that our end of year dance piece was going to be based on the musical, Annie. Now, I was OBSESSED with Annie back in the day - the story is incredibly heartwarming and the songs are too catchy not be - and had it in my head that the role of Annie was, without question, mine. Turns out I was wrong. To say I was devastated is putting it mildly as I did not see why I couldn't be the fun and hopeful redheaded girl but such is life I guess. Anyway, despite that being a slightly sour memory, I still took dance classes up until the age of 9 - moved to Nigeria at the end of that year and watched my dreams of becoming a professional ballerina perish under the hot sun. Anyway, during my time as an active wannabe ballerina, I noticed that I was the only black girl in the entire dance school (that is until my sister joined) - which to be fair could have had something to do with the fact that I grew up in a small town in Scotland and did not see that many black people around back then - and in the clips of ballet performances around the world and in all the dance related films I could get my hands on, there were not that many professional ballerinas that were black. I noticed, yes, but truthfully it did not bother me back then. Me being "stuck" in a new city a million miles away from the old one I knew and loved with heat cranked up high and no dance school in sight bothered me.
When I grew older and found new hobbies I stumbled upon a bunch of tapes of my old dance recitals and what-not and could not help but re-watch them. It. Was. Incredibly. Embarrassing. But the pleasure I got from "twirling" could be seen quite clearly on my tiny round face. Fast forward a few years and my appreciation for ballet was still strong. So imagine my surprise when my dad presented me with tickets to see Sleeping Beauty I believe at The Lowry in Manchester after I got my A-Level results. It was the first ballet I had ever seen live and I was completely floored by the grace and beauty and wonder each dancer brought to the entire performance. I vowed to see another soon after that but when my soon-to-be-uni-student self saw the prices for tickets, the need swiftly became a want in the blink of an eye.
Fast forward almost 10 years, after seeing numerous dance films, posters for different ballets, watching a short by a friend of mine, Scout Stuart, that was about a ballerina, and watching a couple YouTube videos - one by the bookvlogger Sanne (aka Books and Quills) and the other by bookvlogger Jen Campbell about this year's Northern Ballet's Jane Eyre tour - my desire to see my second live ballet show reached its limit and I decided to do something about it back in June. I learnt that Ballet Black, an international dance company that primarily consists of dancers of African and Asian descent, were on tour and were making a stop in July at The Lowry Theatre... in Manchester... the city that I now currently live in... and whose tickets were most definitely affordable.
It may have taken me a while but I did it. I managed to not only see a live ballet performance but one that had only dancers of African and Asian descent in it that made my hyper active imagination leap for joy as it conjured up a rather realistic vision of a leaner, stronger and more grace-like version of me on stage as, once and for all, a Prima Ballerina...
I will share my thoughts on the Ballet Black: Triple Bill in another post.