25 to Watch 2018: Raven Barkley
Surrounded by 10 male dancers, Charlotte Ballet's Raven Barkley holds her own in a thrilling grand allégro combination filled with jumps, beats and tours en l'air. In the "Winter" section of Sasha Janes' The Four Seasons, she matches the electrifying intensity of Antonio Vivaldi's music.
Athleticism is Barkley's calling card. It's what Janes says landed her the "Winter" lead in her first season with Charlotte Ballet. But beyond her ballon, Barkley's dancing possesses deep fluidity and musicality, as seen in another of Janes' ballets, Last Lost Chance. In an emotional solo, she spins like a slow-moving mobile, projecting a sense of yearning that cuts to the quick.
Before joining Charlotte Ballet in 2015, the 24-year-old Bronx native trained at Dance Theatre of Harlem's pre-professional program, and graduated summa cum laude with a BFA in dance from SUNY Purchase. Sure to be a magnet for other choreographers and répétiteurs coming to work with the company, the focused and driven Barkley says, "Every day I find something different to work on to improve."