Janet wanted to be a ballerina in the 1930s and 40s, a time when racial segregation was widespread in the United States. Janet pursued dance with a passion, despite being rejected from discriminatory dance schools. When she was accepted into the Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo as a teenager on the condition that she paint her skin white for performances, Janet refused. She continued to go after her dreams, never compromising her values along the way. From her early childhood lessons to the height of her success as the first African American prima ballerina in the Metropolitan Opera, Brave Ballerina is the story of a remarkable pioneer as told by Michelle Meadows, with fantastic illustrations from Ebony Glenn.
The book is available on amazon.com
Janet Collins (March 7, 1917 – May 28, 2003) was an African American ballet dancer, choreographer, and teacher. She performed on Broadway, in films, and appeared frequently on television. She was among the pioneers of Black ballet dancing, one of the few classically trained Black dancers of her generation.
My daughter told me right before her 3rd birthday that she wanted to be a ballerina. I explained to her to be a ballerina, you will have to train for many years and put in a lot of hard work. She was convinced she was ready. SO, I did exactly what many new moms do. I researched and found the most distinguished dance company in our neighborhood. It had to be a Royal Dance Academy because if nothing else came from her dance experience, and if she stuck with it, she would then be able to teach. (Yes, I watched Fame one too many times) By all means, everything should be about setting up her future and giving her life skills to survive. LOL. I went out and bought every dance uniform approved by her school. She also took tap and there is nothing cuter than a 3-year-old in shiny tap shoes with big bows!
Long story short, 3 months into the first semester of ballet and tap, she looked at me one Saturday on the way to class and said “Mom, I want to take Tae Kwon Do!” “Oh really,” I said. “Okay, I will look into it.” She said, “No, now. I don’t want to do ballet anymore.” My heart sank! All the money I spent on her ballet future and she doesn’t wanna follow through. I looked back at her in the car seat and busted out laughing. I explained to her calmly that we made a commitment for the semester, so she would finish what she started. She agreed. That was that, it was that simple. Every Saturday morning, I woke her up, got her dressed and she did her best in class until the semester was over. Ballet and tap were short lived, but she learned the lesson that we don’t quit or give up.
It also taught me a lesson. Watching her in ballet, she was bored. She picked up the steps quickly and they did the same thing over and over to get the kids ready for a recital. Curriculum which is one size fits all is never gonna work for her. I wonder where she got that from (in my sarcastic voice). She needs to stay challenged with things that are faster paced and if I can’t get her lessons that move with her pace, we must move on. ALSO, SAVE MY MONEY FOR MORE IMPORTANT THINGS!! Best part is, I have lots of pictures and videos for memories. Life is about moments, right? And when it’s over, make sure you have great memories.
She loves Tae Kwon Do and the fact that it’s challenging. The kids are taught new moves every week and she is rewarded, not just with belts but stripes on her belt when she has mastered what has been taught. Yes, colored electrical tape on her belt is her motivation. She is now a yellow belt and today she tells the story that she will become a Master one day. Let’s see how long this last. Tae Kwon Do stories coming soon.