Ingrid Silva, principal dancer of Dance Theatre of Harlem
Ingrid dos Santos Oliveira Silva (@ingridsilva) is the name of the principal dancer of Dance Theatre of Harlem, New York company that is now celebrating 50 years of trajectory and came to Brazil for a few presentations. Ingrid is from Benfica, community of Rio de Janeiro, met dance when discovered the social project “Dançando para não dançar”, with 8 years. Through this project she had the opportunities of going to the audition of Dance Theatre of Harlem, with 17 years old. Since 2008 she is in the company and its been 7 seasons as principal dancer.
“Social projects are very important to the formation of a citizen, thanks to these initiatives I had the opportunity to meet art and dance, and it changed my life forever.”
Very young, Ingrid had to leave Brazil. She says that despite being very difficult to deal with a new culture, being so young, she always had the support of her family and felt very comfortable when she saw people like her when she joined the company.
“Brazil is a country of diversity, but you don’t see that in big companies”
When asked about the market for those who stay, Ingrid says she has not seen many changes since the beginning of her career. She still has a lot of friends leaving Brazil to pursue a career abroad. “I would like to have a Brazilian company with a lot of diversity! Having a black classical dancer in one of the big companies around here is a step that is taking time, but it is necessary so that future dancers do not need to leave their country”
As for the ballet atmosphere and reputation for being repressive and competitive, Ingrid says: “It can make you mentally (and physically) sick. Competition is a very dangerous thing, because if you don’t have a good education at home, you can be influenced and, in a way, corrupt your values. On being repressive, it depends a lot on the director and the teacher. Rehearsals take hours, so there must be someone to place an order! Dancers cannot shut up, they have to give their opinion. “Brazil is a country of diversity, but you don’t see that in big companies”
Ingrid also told us a little more about her trajectory, representativeness in dance, projects and plans for the future. in her passage in são paulo, she was interviewed in the program Conversa com Bial with Ismael Ivo, the first black director in 50 years of Bale in the city and we questioned her about black visibility in Brazil and in the world.
Seeing members of dance companies and those who attend dance shows, is there a good change in black representativeness in Brazil and world?
This change is happening, but slowly. Even today, Brazilian dance companies follow European standards and there is no shortage of black talent, we have a lot in a country where the majority of the population is black. But the people who are in front of these companies are not taking the first steps to bring diversity to the stage. Having a black director and a black dancer is something that can make a lot of difference in the future. After all, if you don’t see yourself in a prominent position, how do you know it’s possible?
You are certainly an inspiration for girls and boys who, like you, are very talented, but come from vulnerable social contexts. What would you say to them?
It is very important to believe in yourself, it is very important that every dancer takes this with them. It sounds cliché, but if you don’t believe in yourself, who will? No matter where you are, what kind of work you do, with courage, determination and hard work you get to the place you want.
Tell us about Empower New York.
is a collaborative platform, created to give voice to real women who fight to achieve their dreams and goals. The idea of the project is to create a safe place for everyone to talk about their experiences, difficulties and achievements, without judgment, encouraging sorority and dialogue. At @empowher_ny, we present the life and routine of different characters. In the “take over” format, they have total freedom of creation and share a little of their journey and day by day. Besides that, we promote 3 annual meetings, where we move our efforts from the digital world to see real life. We are a very extensive network, we have 16,000 women who are part of this community, who help and connect. Our most important focus is networking between women to offer more possibilities and opportunities in today’s world.
What are your perspectives and plans for the future?
My plans for the future are: to continue dancing around the world, working and showing a lot that I have to add in our country. My dream is to teach in schools without access to art, traveling around Brazil.
I would love to do an EmpowHerNy event in Brazil, because it is essential to connect women and bring them new opportunities.
Which repertoire was your favorite to dance and which was the most challenging?
Romeo and Juliet - Balcony pas de deux was definitely one of the most difficult i’ve danced in my career and one of the most transforming.