What if you spent every day looking for One Beautiful Thing?

The Power of Imagery


Arleen Thaler Photography/Swan Dreams Project

Dancer Aesha Ash had a hard road to become a ballerina. Growing up in a poor, mostly-black neighborhood in Rochester, New York, she realized early that she needed to overcome the bleak perception of black women in her chosen profession and in the media at large. After retiring (on her own terms) from a brief-but-successful career that included parts with the New York City Ballet, the Béjart Ballet Lausanne in Switzerland, and Alonzo King Lines Balle, Ash returned to Rochester to team up with photographer Arleen Thaler for an effort she calls The Swan Dreams Project. The Project uses imagery to change the demoralized image of black women.

“The Swan Dreams Project’s goal is to convey the message that beauty and talent are not constrained by race or socio-economic status. I want our youth to know that they are not limited by their environment, only by their dreams.”

Of course, the meteoric rise of ABT principal dancer Misty Copeland has gone a long way toward dispelling stereotypes about black dancers among the ballet community, but there’s still many battles ahead. And Aesha Ash will be on the front lines, fighting for young girls who dream of dancing like she did.

You can follow the project and Aesha Ash on the Swan Dreams website, and on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

All images property of Arleen Thaler Photography/Swan Dreams Project.


Author: Donna from MyOBT

I have committed to spending part of every day looking for at least one beautiful thing, and sharing what I find with you lovelies!

11 thoughts on “The Power of Imagery

  1. Good for her. There should be more like her.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Wonderful! I think sometimes in these days of media saturation we have become too complacent about ensuring that there are positive representation and role models for our young people. I think also that, as white people, we underestimate the importance of seeing people who look like you, are from the places you are from, who share your dreams and aspirations. I know that growing up in a post-war new town in fairly straitened circumstances, I was aware that there were no families on TV or in movies who lived in places like I did or whose families had a similar dynamic to my family. It’s why that Smiths lyric “the music that they constantly play says nothing to me about my life” spoke so deeply to me. I can only imagine how much more significant that is for kids who are, for example, from communities of colour or are LGBT or growing up in the care of grandparents etc.

    Liked by 1 person

    • This is one of those occasions when I wish WP had a love button. That gets a resounding YES! I love that she’s willing to put herself out there (and you know she sometimes meets ridicule or at least judgement) for the benefit of the next generation.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I love this so much! I have a great appreciation for dance since my cousin is a professional ballerina (for the Met) and choreographer. I have long admired Aesha and the incredible work she is doing to change the stereotype of dance, but also inspire younger generations. Thank you for sharing this! ❤

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Re: Stereotypes. Yes, but you could say the same thing about aphorisms or anecdotes. Both, like the quote, incomplete. Neither affirming or denying anything, let alone truth-in the nicest way 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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