eet Amaya Joseph, 15, from Florida.
Can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
I started dancing ballet at the age of 3. It was at age 7 I decided that I wanted to become a professional ballerina. After seeing one of my role models Misty Copeland in a magazine, and eventually on stage in the nutcracker. At age 9 I started competing at YAGP and have been fortunate enough to place and later on made it to finals in New York City. I have also competed and placed at ADCIBC and have received scholarships. I have trained in many styles of dance such as contemporary, jazz, character, modern, tap, but ballet is my main focus. I have attended summer intensives at American Ballet Theatre New York, Miami City Ballet, Houston Ballet, and currently Next Generation Ballet. One of my most memorable events was when I danced the role of Clara with the Orlando Ballet. It was definitely a dream come true. I am also an ambassador for Brown Girls do Ballet, Ballet in the City, and Discount Dance Supply.
We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
It definitely has not been easy, ballet is hard work and it takes a lot of dedication and training. Because of the extensive training, dancers are likely to sustain injuries. I know I have, and the worst part is having to sit out of dance, but I know my body needed time to heal. You have your good days and your bad but in the end its all worth it.
What personal limitations if any did you go through in your young career?
I don't have "perfect feet" so I'm constantly working on them.
Has anybody ever tried to limit you on what you could do? If so how did you fight it?
Yes, sometimes when I say that I want to become a professional ballerina, it was suggested to me that I should dance for one of the primarily black ballet companies. These are amazing companies, however, I don't feel that I should be boxed in or limited to a company based on the color of my skin. I continue to train hard in order to improve my technique, which in turn will help me achieve my goals.
How do you conquer negative talk?
I don't entertain negative talk. I remain focused on my goals, and I try to see the positive in every situation.
What is your favorite quote?
"Hardwork beats talent, when talent doesn't work hard."
So, what’s next? Any big plans?
I will continue to improve my technique and focus on my goal; and I'm open to the possibilities.