In December, India Bradley made history by becoming the first Black woman in the 75-year existence of the New York City Ballet to dance the role of Dewdrop in George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker.
The 25-year-old told Girls United, “It was very important to me. Many African-American women went through this company at different times and were not given the opportunity. I can tell you it had 50 percent to do with the fact that they were Black.”
“It was a really special experience. Doing those steps, in a role that is cherished by some of the most iconic dancers, feeling how it felt to be in the costume, I’ll never forget that,” she remarked.
Being the first Black woman in that position, she clarified, was an unforeseen development. The pacesetter started dancing when her mother, Judy, a choreographer and instructor as well as a former member of the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, introduced her to it.
“She would be teaching master workshops, and I would always be with her,” Bradley recalled. Though her mother had no intention of having Bradley become a dancer, allowing her to be part of her classes to keep her from disrupting her work undoubtedly set the way for her, and she didn’t stop there.
After receiving training at Mitchell’s Dance Theater of Harlem, Bradley attended the School of American Ballet for four years at the age of fourteen. She subsequently received an offer to work for the New York City Ballet after foregoing college.
She impressed the audience with her rendition of the iconic performance during her momentous appearance on December 10.
Her proud mother told Amsterdam News, “We watched history being made. India loved to perform and she was very talented. At home, India would create a makeshift stage and dance for family and friends, then demand everyone clap.”
Bradley, a rising star, has previously appeared in new dances choreographed by Tony winner Justin Peck and the Solange Knowles-scored “Play Time.”
The trailblazer is not only a powerful force in her industry but also demonstrates her ability to hold her own, as evidenced by her appearances in corporate ads wearing box braids and her activism on social causes.
Nonetheless, after taking on one of the most desired roles in ballet, queries about why she hasn’t been promoted to soloist or principal arose on posts praising her performance.
“I just work hard. Everything else—the snarky comments, passive-aggressive racism, and what other people decide to say and do—is just none of my business. Maybe that’s a bandaid, but it’s working for me at the moment,” she expressed.