[He] said don't let them take you over. Walk into the room knowing you are the best. Shoulders back, chin up. Their attitudes will totally change.
Decide what you want. Declare it to the world. See yourself winning. And remember that if you are persistent as well as patient, you can get whatever you seek.
Before dance came into my life, I don't really remember having any major goals or dreams of wanting to be anything.
There are hundreds of stories I've heard from black women from my generation, generations before me, and the next, that have never been given an opportunity to fulfill their dreams.
I think, as a child, there weren't dreams. I can't recall as a child having some ultimate dream and thinking that it was possible.
I think most people think of ballerinas as kind of either as a fairytale, far-away thing that's really not attainable, something they can't grasp, or they think of them as European or Russian and kind of their nose up in the air. So, it's cool for me to, like, sit with them and for them to really see themselves as me.
Ballet found me, I guess you could say. I was discovered by a teacher in middle school. I always danced my whole life. I never had any training, never was exposed to seeing dance, but I always had something inside of me. I would love to choreograph and dance around.
When I was younger, my feet would hurt a lot, but you build up calluses and strength, and you don't feel as much pain there. But then again, it's a give and take. The older you get, you may feel pain in your back or your hips.
When it came to my childhood - growing up in a single-parent home, often struggling financially - my mother definitely instilled in me and my siblings this strength, this will, to just continue to survive and succeed.
I wake up every morning, and I go to ballet class no matter what's going on the night before. That's my priority, and that's what makes me feel sane and not removed from the realities of my world.
I feel like going to class every morning is so humbling. You're always working to improve, and you're always being critiqued on your next performance. It's not about what you've done. There's always room to grow.
Being in ballet class, being on the stage, being surrounded by my peers at American Ballet Theater every day, keeps me so humble and grounded. Being in ballet class, I feel, is like this meditation for me every morning.
I didn't want to be the best at anything; I just wanted to blend in. And that was kind of my existence throughout my family experiences at home of just kind of blending in in the background through my other siblings, which was easy to do.
I think body-image issues are not just a dancer thing. I think we're much more in tune and aware because the body is our instrument and art, and we stare at ourselves in a mirror all day, but I feel like it's something that every woman experiences and every girl experiences.