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‘Misty Copelands’ Are Rare in World of Ballet, and Black Entrepreneur Looks to Change That

When Robin Pitts, founder of the dance studio Dance Makers, started dancing at 7 years old she didn’t see many people on TV who looked like her.

Her mother wasn’t even sure she’d like dance, after it didn’t take with her older sister.

Still, the aspiring ballerina begged until her mother relented.

Robin Pitts founded Dance Makers in 2001 with the goal of technically training more Black ballerinas. (Photo by Sara Boyd)

More than 30 years later, she still hasn’t stopped dancing.

“I’m a studio kid,” Pitts told Atlanta Black Star.

She’s focusing more on the administrative side of dance these days, having founded the Maryland-based Dance Makers studio in 2001 and leading the organization into its 20th year.

It’s attracted prominent instructors from noted choreographer and Julliard-trained dancer Roger Jeffrey to Caroline Rocher Barnes, who studied at the Alvin Ailey American Dance Center before joining The Dance Theatre of Harlem.

This Dance Makers photo dubbed “Get On Pointe” went viral and attracted several celebrities to follow the company including singer Jennifer Lopez, “The Real Housewives of Atlanta” star Porsha Williams, and actress Garcell Beauvais. (Photo: Brandon Whitelow of Dance Makers/@dancemakers/Instagram)

“In our community those parents who want technique, they come to us.” Pitts said.

She started her company, which offers jazz, ballet and hip-hop, with a mission to introduce more technically trained Black ballerinas onto the dance scene.

“When we go to dance competitions we’re the minority,” she said.

It’s not uncommon to see Black band dancers or artists in other types of dance, but “you don’t see a lot of Misty Copelands,” she said.

Copeland became the first Black woman to be promoted to principal dancer in the 75-year-history of American Ballet Theatre on June 30, 2015.

Read full story at Atlanta Black Star here.

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