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15-year-old Ballerina Advocates for Equality in the Future of Ballet

As role model, ambassador and advocate at almost 15 years of age, Amaya Joseph is a pillar for the future of ballet.

In 2018 Joseph made history as the first black Clara in the Orlando Ballet’s Nutcracker when she was only 13-years-old. Since then, she has been a brand ambassador and modeled for various dance brands such as Discount Dance, Brown Girls Do Ballet, and Ballet in the City.

Joseph has been a huge voice in creating an online community advocating for BIPOC in the ballet society.

A few things she advocates for is matching skin tone shoes being pre-made, rather than ballet dancers of color having to paint their shoes in order for them to match their skin. She also voices for dancers of color to have the opportunity to wear skin toned tights, rather than the traditional pink that more closely resembles their fellow white dancers.

“Everyone wants to have nice lines and look their best,” Joseph said, “Dancers of color should have the opportunity to wear skin toned tights and look their best.”

Joseph recalled that the moment she first saw black ballerinas on stage and how it gave her an even deeper connection to the art form, as it presented her with a glimpse of her future self.

Dancers that inspire Joseph would include Misty Copeland and Michaela DePrince.

On June 5, DePrince posted a photo series featuring black dancers with the caption, “Keep proving them wrong.”

Joseph was one of the featured dancers, which also included dance icons such as: Ebony Williams, Marcelino Sambé, Eric Underwood, Da’Von W. Doane, Katlyn Addison and Ebony Lall to name a few.

In February of this year, Joseph participated in the Youth America Grand Prix (YAGP), the world’s largest ballet competition. She placed top 12 in the Junior Age Division Classical Category. And has been placing at YAGP since 2016.

Joseph also placed 2nd this year in the Junior Age Division Contemporary Dance Category featuring an African Contemporary Piece choreographed by Chiaki Yasukawa.

Yasukawa said in a post in Instagram, “She made me proud not only receiving 2nd place at YAGP, but also presenting her culture with pride!”

Since, Joseph has received various scholarships to summer intensives such as, A scholarship to the Cary Ballet Conservatory 2020 summer intensive, a 100 percent tuition scholarship to the Boys Ballet Summer Intensive and a 50 percent tuition scholarship to the International Ballet Academy.

Currently, Joseph is not committed to any ballet schools and has been taking advantage of the various online classes being offered in order to keep dancers training through Covid-19.

“I am not committed to anything at this time,” Joseph said, “I am just open to seeing what opportunities come my way in the future.”

Joseph continues to aspire to be an inspiration to younger dancers stating, “I want young black dancers to see me and think ‘I can do that.’”

Want to learn more about Amaya? Connect with her on social media!


This article was written by Bethany Nash

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