Watch: This Is What It’s Like to Be a Black Girl in a White Ballet World

Isabella Soto has big dreams of becoming a principal dancer at the American Ballet Theatre.

“I saw The Nutcracker when I was 2 years old and I said I really want to do this,” said the 11-year-old.

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By age 5, Isabella had already realized there weren’t many dancers who looked like her in the world she had come to love. The lack of representation impacted the young ballerina so much that she almost stopped dancing.

“Isabella said, ‘Mom, I just want to see someone who looks like me,’ and I’m like, ‘Wow, at 5 she can feel this and sense this,’” says Jennifer James Soto, Isabella’s mother.

That’s when her mother took her to see the Soulful Nutcracker. From that point on, Isabella never stopped dancing. Now that she’s 11, the next few years can make or break her career in ballet. But the ballet world hasn’t changed much since Isabella’s journey began.

So where are all the black and brown ballerinas? Watch above.

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Ashley Velez

Senior Video Producer by day. Chicken connoisseur by night. Philly jawn always.