On 2 January 2017, Memphis Collage Collective wished their members and fans a Happy New Year on Instagram. The message was accompanied by this stunning photograph of five of the company ballerinas.
From left to right they are Brandye Lee, Daphne Lee, Kimberley Ho-Tsai, Nikki Taylor and Luisa Cardoso. Two days later, the image was re-shared by Taji Magazine, a black beauty and culture publication, and promptly went viral.
This powerful and beautiful image challenges the still prevailing world of ballet, which favours European, classical, white tradition. The image envisions an environmental where dancers are evaluated by their skill and style, regarding of ethnicity, gender identity or socio economic status. The photo is one of several hundreds taken for the Memphis Collage Collective, all of which showcase their dancers’ authenticity and skill.
Shalishah Franklin, the company’s marketing director told Yahoo Beauty that the images are vital to represent dancers of colour. “We are deeply concerned by the underrepresentation of black ballerinas, not only in mainstream media, but in professional companies and ballet schools worldwide,” she said. “We have seen firsthand how truly beneficial exposure to performing arts professionals who resemble them is for our youth, and we intend to continue to do our part to change the narrative.”
You can see more of the beautiful dancers at Memphis Collage Collective, by following their Instagram page here