Jump to Main ContentJump to Primary Navigation

Ballet Is A “World Of Privilege”: Britain’s First Black Ballerina On Overcoming Exclusion

I was born in Ealing, London in 1956 and for as long as I can consciously remember, I wanted to be a ballerina. 

This came from an innate desire to be able to move my body with grace and the fascination of being in the air in sustained positions. It has always given me a feeling of elation - quite an addictive feeling. 

Watching and listening to my mother singing allowed me to see how discipline and creativity can work hand in hand. My mother was my biggest inspiration. She had a beautiful operatic voice and was asked to audition for the Royal Opera, but my father refused to allow it. When I found an undying love and passion for ballet, my mother fully supported my dreams.

My extra ballet classes and training meant that our family had to forgo our beloved holidays in Cornwall to help fund the training at our local dance school. At 17, I successfully auditioned for a full-time position at Rambert Ballet School, aided by a grant from the Inner London Education Authority.