I've gotten nothing but warmth from the Black community and positive feedback.
I didn't want to be the best at anything; I just wanted to blend in. And that was kind of my existence throughout my family experiences at home of just kind of blending in in the background through my other siblings, which was easy to do.
When I was a little girl, I was incredibly shy. My hope was to blend in, to fit in, to not be noticed in any significant way. I was deeply insecure and unsure of myself.
I was definitely a late bloomer and didn't really come into my own until I was probably in my 20s.
When people meet me in person, they're usually surprised at how petite I am because there's this idea that because I'm black, I just look a certain way.
I'm definitely influenced by the music. We dance to music, and you have to listen to it and phrase your dancing and movement in a certain way to compliment the music. We have to work hand in hand, the dancer and the music.
'The Company' was interesting. I didn't love it, although it might be compelling to someone who isn't a dancer. There wasn't a lot of dialogue, and you were just kind of observing the creative process of choreography and in class.
In the ballet studio, it was such an organized and disciplined environment, like I'd never had in my life. Seeing myself in the mirror, surrounded by the classical music, that's when I started to fall in love with dance.
The classical ballet world is so exclusive and small, and a lot of people don't know about it.
I think I'm pretty laid back. I like cooking, being at home, and going to concerts. And I love to shop!
I traced the marley floor with my pointe shoes, and imagine myself on the stage, not as a member of the corps, but as a principal dancer. It felt right. It felt like a promise. Some day, somehow, it was going to happen for me.
It's going to take a while before we see a real shift in the students and the dancers that are going into professional companies because it takes so many years of training, but I do think that there's a new crop of dancers, of minority dancers that are entering into the ballet world.
My curves became an integral part of who I am as a dancer, not something I needed to lose to become one.
I think body-image issues are not just a dancer thing. I think we're much more in tune and aware because the body is our instrument and art, and we stare at ourselves in a mirror all day, but I feel like it's something that every woman experiences and every girl experiences.
40 years old is about the time a principal dancer would start to think about retirement, but some go on to dance a little bit longer than that.
I would have young dancers come to me and ask me questions and want to know what my experiences were like: 'What's it like being a black dancer?' So I just felt like it was necessary for me to share my experiences with them.
I was on a path. I was going to become a principal dancer. I never let my mind rest.
I know that I'm talented, and I know that I'm not in American Ballet Theater because I'm black - I'm here because I'm a gifted dancer.
I was seventeen when I moved to New York. I was nineteen when I joined the main company. I was going through a lot. Just becoming an adult and just wanting to fit in, be accepted, and be in common with the other dancers.
Dance kind of was always just a part of my natural state as a child. It's something that, whenever music was playing, I was dancing.