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How the price of a cup of coffee can strengthen this dance mentor program

Photo by: Aaron Pegg of Underground NYC

Swimsuit by: Flagpole NYC

Happy International Coffee Day! October 1st will count as the final day for anyone to donate to PowerPointe's online campaign Développé and Grab a Frappé benefiting Brown Girls Do Ballet's Scholarship Program. Honor International Coffee Day by donating the price of a cup of coffee, which can keep this scholarship and mentor program on the rise. Before it ends, we have chosen to highlight one of this nonprofit organization's mentors from Dance Theatre of Harlem - Ingrid Silva.

Ingrid Silva is a professional ballerina with Dance Theatre of Harlem in New York, and back in 2017, she was featured on the cover of Pointe Magazine's June/July issue. Through this Q & A session between PowerPointe's Founder and Managing Editor Kenya Ross and Ingrid Silva, find out how she became a mentor for Brown Girls Do Ballet, and why she believes it's important for brown and black ballerinas to be represented in media, literature and on stage.

KR: What is it like being a professional ballerina for a prestigious organization such as Dance Theatre of Harlem; especially since that company is now celebrating 50 years? What are some positive thoughts you can share about this daily experience?

IS: "It's incredible being part of an organization that has so much history. I'm super excited for DTH 50th ANNIVERSARY. We have so many great surprises for our audience."

KR: When did you first learn about Brown Girls Do Ballet (BGDB), and how did you start to get involve as a mentor?

IS: "I was invited by a fellow company member to shoot for BGDB when Takiyah Wallace just launched the organization. I've always been an admirer, then she invited me to become a mentor last year. I was a mentor to nine young ladies and this year again, it's such a pleasure to see them growing in their own journeys."

KR: Why do you believe it's important for young brown/black ballerinas to be represented on stage, in the media, in magazines (considering you were on the cover of Pointe Magazine's June/July 2017 issue) or in books?

IS: "It's really important. It's the doors to diversity. Can you imagine how inspiring it is seeing someone like you in a cover of a magazine? Or being represented by somebody that looks like you? This can literally change lives."

KR: What is the most important lesson that you've learned during your journey as a professional ballerina or mentor that could help anyone (not just a dancer) to pursue their dreams or progress in life?

IS: "Believe in yourself and believe that you can! There will be many adversities in your way, but you can't give up. Life is full of challenges, be open to live them!"

KR: How do you believe your movement, #EmpowHERNY is making a difference in a woman's or young girl's life journey?

IS: "We started with EmpowHer NY last December, when I met my partner Helya Mohammadian. She is the founder of Slick Chicks, a line of underwear for women with disabilities. We met while walking our Frenchies and we became very close friends. We both wanted to do something that would make an impact by giving voices to women and helping them achieve their goals. One day we were sitting at a beer garden with our dogs, and came up with the name and created the Instagram, and then all of these people found our account. As women, we haven't had space to have our voices heard for so long, and finally now everyone is breaking their shell and speaking up, so I'm very proud to be part of this movement, giving a voice to other women. We have a different woman taking over our Instagram every day. The women live all over the world. We are the first platform worldwide that does a different takeover each day. We've done 212 takeovers so far, and are booked until October, though we're always looking for more. We had our first event, a panel discussion and Q&A with food and drinks, on January 29, and it was sold out in less than 24 hours. Last week, we had our second event—a panel discussion moderated by Fabiana Saba, an inclusive model and activist. One of the women on the panel was a former DTH dancer Bethania Gomes. What's great about the events is that the women who have done the takeovers can meet each other. They're more than a person behind a screen, and they get to network and create connections."

With World Ballet Day returning tomorrow on Tuesday, October 2nd, be on the lookout for companies like Dance Theatre of Harlem possibly going LIVE on Facebook to give viewers an inside peek on what it takes to maintain strength and dedication in the life of ballet. You might even catch Ingrid Silva!

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