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Morgan State University
For black dancers, it's unequal footing
For black dancers, it's unequal footing

As long as there have been ballet companies in the United States, African-American boys and girls have been discouraged from having Sugar Plum Fairy fantasies and "Nutcracker" dreams. They were told they weren't born with the right bodies to form the elegant lines required by classical dance. They were told that their race was too muscular, too athletic, and too curvy — code words for "too sexual" — for the sylphlike innocents celebrated in such ballets as "Giselle" and "Swan Lake." They were told that America wasn't ready to see a dark brown woman cast as a white snowflake or swan. When black ballerinas executed routine...