Meet Kyra Bonta, 17, from Portland, Oregon and is currently training at Oregon International Ballet Academy.
Can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
I started ballet classes when I was 4. My parents said I always a danced around the house. I started out doing all styles of dance but quickly realized that I liked ballet the best. I attended ballet summer intensives with American Ballet Theatre and San Fransisco Ballet. I have attended several ballet studios in Portland including Oregon Ballet Theatre and now attend Oregon International Ballet Academy.
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 has not been easy being one of the only, or sometimes the only, black ballerina(s) in my class or company. It can feel isolating.
What personal limitations if any did you go through in your young career?
I have struggled with a lot of self doubt. I’ve been fortunate to have some wonderful teachers who have been so positive and encouraging to me. They push me to take risks and now I know that it’s okay to not be perfect. There is beauty in imperfection.
Has anybody ever tried to limit you on what you could do? If so how did you fight it?
One former teacher told me that my legs were too muscular and not long and lean like a ballerinas should be to be. That really got to me until I looked at other dancers like Misty Copeland and realized that is just not true. I’ve been able to embrace my body just the way it is.
How do you conquer negative talk?
You can’t let other people define who you are and what you can do.
What is your favorite quote?
“Never be afraid to be to be a poppy in a field of daffodils.” Michaela DePrince
So, what’s next? Any big plans?
I founded a nonprofit called Ballet in Color (@balletincolor, balletincolor.org) to mentor and teach young black ballerinas. It has been so fulfilling. I hope to continue to grow this organization so that other brown ballerinas don’t have to go through the same struggles that I did.