Ingrid Silva Is Determined to Make Ballet More Diverse
Ingrid Silva's job extends beyond her performances with Dance Theatre of Harlem. The Brazilian native has made it her mission to push for greater diversity in dance. She participates in community outreach, performs as an international guest artist and even founded her own platform, EmpowHer NY.
"I never felt represented when I was younger—I didn't see anyone that looked like me in ballet in Brazil," Silva says. "Now I realize how important that representation is to shape the future of this younger generation."
Dance Magazine recently quizzed her about her life and work on and off the stage.
Her preshow rituals: "I usually pray and try to connect with nature by sitting out in the sun. I also love to listen to Beyoncé and Alicia Keys."
Why she created EmpowHer NY: "My goal is for it to become one of the biggest networking platforms for women globally. The idea is to create a safe environment for women to discuss their experiences, difficulties and achievements without judgment."
On partnering with cosmetics brand Black Opal: "I've used their foundation to dye my pointe shoes for the past 11 years. I took part in their recent campaign about feeling beautiful in your own skin."
On being a role model: "It's a big responsibility. But young dancers need to see themselves in companies like Dance Theatre of Harlem. It prepares them for their own journey."
Favorite roles: "So far, it's Juliet. I performed the balcony pas for a gala in Brazil with Thiago Soares. It was an intense process with so many details, and it taught me so much. But my dream role is Kitri."
Currently listening to: "H.E.R. I feel like her songs speak to me."
Go-to restaurant: "The Grange in Harlem."
Off-day routine: "I love picnics in Central Park with my family and taking my dog, Frida, to playdates with our French bulldog group."
Her Brazilian roots: "I go home every year, sometimes to work on dance projects. But I love visiting with my family and getting to see my childhood friends. I always go to the beach, and my mom and grandma's food is the best."
Her charge for ballet companies: "There are many talented ballerinas. It's up to the companies to give them opportunities—they can change what the dance world looks like."
Back in 2011 when Joe Lanteri first approached Katie Langan, chair of Marymount Manhattan College's dance department, about getting involved with New York City Dance Alliance, she was skeptical about the convention/competition world.
"But I was pleasantly surprised by the enormity of talent that was there," she says. "His goal was to start scholarship opportunities, and I said okay, I'm in."
Today, it's fair to say that Lanteri has far surpassed his goal of creating scholarship opportunities. But NYCDA has done so much more, bridging the gap between the convention world and the professional world by forging a wealth of partnerships with dance institutions from Marymount to The Ailey School to Complexions Contemporary Ballet and many more. There's a reason these companies and schools—some of whom otherwise may not see themselves as aligned with the convention/competition world—keep deepening their relationships with NYCDA.
Now, college scholarships are just one of many ways NYCDA has gone beyond the typical weekend-long convention experience and created life-changing opportunities for students. We rounded up some of the most notable ones:
We knew that Ivo van Hove and Anne Teresa de Keersmaeker's production of West Side Story would challenge our preconceived notions about the show.
But a recent Vogue story gives us a taste of just how nontraditional the Broadway revival will be. Most notably, van Hove is cutting "I Feel Pretty" and the "Somewhere" ballet, condensing the show into one act to better reflect the urgency of the 48-hour plot. (The choice has been approved by the West Side Story estate, including Sondheim, who has "long been uncomfortable" with some of the "I Feel Pretty" lyrics.)
"The show must go on" may be a platitude we use to get through everything from costume malfunctions to stormy moods. But when it came to overcoming a literal hurricane, Houston Ballet was buoyed by this mantra to go from devastated to dancing in a matter of weeks—with the help of Harlequin Floors, Houston Ballet's longstanding partner who sprang into action to build new floors in record time.