We all go through challenges, and we all have our own personal and unique struggles. Our challenges are often unique to our environment, culture, and surroundings, and I find that this rule applies particularly so to members of the African American community in the ballet world. Ballet has a bad history of purposefully excluding African American dancers in particular due to false claims that African American dancers did not have the “right body” to suite the balletic line. Due to this stereotyping and vilification, I have seen many dear friends of mine denied many opportunities, leading many to leave the ballet world all-together. Yet, despite these hardships, I also have several close friends who I have watched face challenge after challenge and through it all come out the other side thriving and successful. One dancer who I must name in particular is my very close friend Nicholas Rose.
Currently a company member with the Dance Theatre of Harlem, Nicholas has danced a fantastic number of roles and toured internationally with the company over the past two years. I’ve known Nicholas for six years now, and with every year my admiration of him only grows. I recall every day his dedication and commitment, and how despite the difficulties he faced he always came in with the brightest demeanor, and lifted up everyone else along with him.
Upon graduating, he did not immediately land a big-time contract. Rather, he ended up dancing in a small company in Cleveland, OH. Their only rehearsal studio was in the basement of a church, where they would spend upwards of seven hours a day. He spent a year there working every day for a better life, and by the seasons end, he got it. A private audition with Dance Theatre of Harlem lead to a full-time contract, and now he is living the dream that he, in the face of countless obstacles, fought so hard to have.
To see a dear friend on mine go through as much as they did and still find a way to build the life they wanted gives me the hope and strength to go out and do it for myself. I find that surrounding ourselves with people that we admire helps to further elevate ourselves, so that in turn we may elevate others. Together, we can make the world a better place than it once was, and move further along the path to a world were opportunity, respect, and love is given to all.
Thanks so much for reading, and be sure to check out some of the other fantastic posts here on the blog!
Juilliard Dance 2020