THE BLACK SWAN

By
Updated: April 17, 2016
grace

“Dancing is creating a sculpture that is visible only for a moment.”-Erol Ozan

(North Carolina)-BASN-Many professional football players like NFL Hall of Famer Lynn Swann (Pittsburgh Steeler) and Willie Gault  of the Super Bowl XX champion Chicago Bears claimed that practicing ballet helped them greatly on the football field, especially as  wide receivers. It, in fact, improved their flexibility and leaping ability as well as their lower body strength (especially their groin area) plus their  footwork, which helped them explode off the ball and make precision cuts in their route running.  Therefore, we shouldn’t be surprised that San Francisco Chronicle correspondent Ron Thomas once described Hall of Famer JerryRice as “a ballet dancer in cleats” whose “dazzling runs leave defenders grasping at air and gasping for breath.”

Then, along came Brooklyn Mack, who, seemingly, has changed the game forever.

Mack, who was raised in Elgin, South Carolina, decided to take up ballet at 12 years old in order to improve his football skills and athleticism.

But, oddly, three years later, at the age of 15, he received a full scholarship at the prestigious Kirov Academy of Ballet in Washington, DC

Currently, he is in his fifth season as a principal dancer with the Washington Ballet and has found international fame in his craft, helping to break down racial barriers in the world of ballet.

Mack has received awards from the Helsinki International Ballet Competition, the USA International Ballet Competition, the Boston International Ballet Competition, and the Korean International Dance Competition, among many others. In 2012, he became the first African-American man to win a senior gold medal at the renowned Varna International Ballet Competition (sometimes dubbed the Olympics of ballet).

Of being a black ballet dancer, Mack told Ebony Magazine“People can pretend all they want but race is still very much an issue. You’re either blind or in denial if you think it’s not. And there’s a reason that seeing an African American person or a dark skinned person on a ballet stage stands out. It’s because you don’t see much of that. Still in a lot of circles there are idiotic misconceptions. You’d hear things like black people are anatomically not designed in a way that they can do ballet. Or black people can’t point their feet. Just stupid stuff still today. There’s less and less thank God, but still.” 

He added: “So it’s great to talk about diversity because unfortunately a lot of youth especially are so impressionable. Had I had a different family, I easily could have been crushed by those things that people say. I think it’s really important to talk about it, so that young people can know there are no limits. Throughout history we’ve excelled at everything we’ve had a chance to do. That’s part of my goal. I want to shed as much light as possible.”

Mack will continue to exemplify excellence in dance while paving a way for more African-American dancers to receive support in ballet. Indeed he is slated to make history by starring alongside Misty Copeland in the Washington Ballet’s ground-breaking production of Swan Lake.

Source: balletnews.co.uk, via browngurlwfro)

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