International recognition for Bermudian ballet dancers
Two Black ballerinas who dedicated their lives to dance were selected to represent the island as part of an international group committed to diversity in dance.
Amaya Husband and Honor Stoneham-Caesar, both 12, said they were “excited” and “humbled” to become junior ambassadors for Brown Girls Do Ballet.
The organisation, based in Dallas, Texas, aims to promote diversity in ballet and the arts by providing young girls of colour with scholarships and networking opportunities.
Amaya said: “I was very excited – my Mom told everybody about it and it got all over social media.
“I was just very excited to be a part of the organisation – I felt like it would be a new accomplishment for me.”
Honor added: “I was very shocked because I honestly didn’t think I was going to make it.
“There had been an influx of people who applied so I thought that the chances of making it were going to be very slim, especially since this was my first year applying.
“I was very shocked and excited and I just tried to take it in to make it more believable for myself.”
Honor, from Southampton, said that the two applied for the positions in October last year after learning about the organisation in May.
She said that ambassadors encouraged Black girls to enrol in all forms of dance and act as role models through their leadership skills and talent.
Honor added: "An organisation like Brown Girls Do Ballet is important because it helps to bring more diversity to the dance realm and show that there’s no rule around what a dancer has to look like.”
She said that she learnt about the organisation in May last year and contacted Amaya about the chance to apply for an ambassador position during their recruitment period in October.
They learnt in January that they were selected despite a large pool of applicants that slowed down the selection process.
Amaya, also from Southampton, said that she was inspired to join because of the diversity in her classes at the DanceSations School of Dance.
She explained: “At my studios there’s actually a few boys there and it really helps me see how diverse all dance studios should be.”
Amaya has practised with DanceSations since she was five years old and is a member of their Hip-Hop Elite team and the youngest member of their Junior Company, which recruits dancers with exceptional talent.
She has travelled to New York City to take classes at the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre and the Broadway Dance Centre, where she took lessons led by The Rockettes and choreographers of The Lion King and Aladdin Broadway shows.
Amaya has also enrolled in summer intensives with the Joffrey School of Ballet in New York and the Debbie Allen Dance Academy in Los Angeles.
She travelled to Atlanta in the summer of 2019 for a three-week intensive course hosted by the Debbie Allen Dance Academy where she took classes with world-renowned choreographers including Ms Allen herself.
Honor is a member of United Dance Productions where she studies hip-hop, modern dance and tap.
She qualified for the 2020 World Dance Challenge, which would have seen her travel to Algarve, Portugal in April last year to compete against other dancers from across the globe for a cash prize, but the competition was postponed due to the coronavirus.
Honor has also been trained in ballet and aerial dance through Padma Bermuda.
Honor said that she wanted to bring new ideas to the table and help the company grow.
Amaya added: “I hope to just inspire other people around the world to be great dancers and try their best.”