Inspired by the ballet-themed pieces in our AW17 collection, we spoke to American and Trinidadian Ballerina, Nardia Boodoo. Currently making ripples in the world of ballet and raising the barre for women of colour in all dance industries, Nardia was granted full scholarship in the Washington Ballet trainee program before joining the prestigous company for her first season as a professional dancer.
Including roles in classic productions such as The Nutcracker, Don Quixote, and the lead in Black Iris - it's safe to say her moves are on 'pointe'. We caught her inbetween rehearsals to talk goals, sololist roles and tapping into your artisitic power...
Where did you train as a ballerina and how has it evolved you as a dancer?
I initially trained at Towson University’s children's dance division. I stopped at 10, and didn't start aging until High School, where I basically had to start over with my training, but with hard work I ended up at really good summer intensives and year round training at Joffrey Chicago and The Washington Ballet.
What advice would you give to someone starting out a career in dance?
I would tell an aspiring dancer to never conform, strive to have a healthy and positive attitude. I always think of ballet as a verb, its a wonderful feeling.
What was your plan B?
My back-up plan was to be a paediatrician.
What’s your ‘pinch me, I must be dreaming’ moment?
I’ve had several. The first was when I was Boureee-ing off stage into the wings, at the end of the second act of Don Quixote. It was my first time dancing on stage with a professional ballet company. My mum called me that night. I was so overwhelmed with excitement and happiness, that I started crying. It was such a beautiful moment. I am now addicted to that feeling.
What ballet role would you love to perform?
I would love to be Giselle. I really love classical ballet.
Who or what inspires you?
For me inspiration is everywhere. I actually love watching old Dorothy Dandridge movies, Young Naomi Campbell’s pictures, and reading about other young women of colour who are pioneers. They inspire and empower me.
What’s the best advice you’ve ever been given?
So far I have two, one from Carmen De Lavalade, I met her while I was a trainee at The Joffrey Ballet, it was the eve of a performance where I was the lead and there was so much controversy around it. She told me, “they can't tell you what to do on stage” she basically gave me permission to tap into my artistic power. The second best piece of advice I've received was from my current director Julie Kent, she told me to stop thinking that I had to be super woman and to just be the “strongest, cleanest version of my beautiful self”, that will always stick with me.
What advice would you give your 18-year-old self?
I would have told myself to keep going, keep pushing, believe that you will make it and to break up with my then boyfriend (ha!).
When are you happiest?
I am most happiest when I am around my family. I love them and don't know who I’d be without them.
What do you consider your greatest achievement?
My greatest achievement would have to be becoming a ballerina. I’ve proved myself and I’ve beaten the odds. I’m happy about that.
And what would you like to achieve next?
I would like to tackle more soloist roles. Everyday I go to company class and rehearse for hours on end. I would like to be featured more.
Who is the love of your life?
Kenzo! My 3 year old kitty. He’s perfect. And then my boyfriend.
At hush we value female friendships - what qualities do all your friends share?
I value female relationships too! All of my female friends are confident and bold women. They all hold themselves to the highest standard. They're all super sweet and smart. They understand the dichotomy women face. I have the best friendships.
When was the last time you laughed out loud?
I laugh out loud at least once a day. It helps tone your abs!
Fantasy Dinner Party. You get to choose six guests – dead or alive – to spend the evening with. Who would you choose?
Sylvi Gulliem, Naomi Cambell, Beyonce, Nelson Mandela, Ghandi and Michelle Obama.
What’s the one thing people would be surprised to learn about you?
That I am half Indian and half African American. In Trinidad (where my fathers from) that rare mixture is called 'dougla'. Which is Hindu for both.
What are you reading/watching/listening to at the moment?
I'm reading The Gold Finch by Donna Tartt and How to be a pack leader by Caesar Milan (as I just got a new dog). Watching Insecure on HBO and listening to SZA’s Ctrl.
How do you unwind at the end of the day?
At the end of the day I like to take a long hot shower or bubble bath (depending on my work load) do my face mask and plot down into a split and just stretch it all out. It’s the best part of the day.
What - if anything - keeps you awake at night?
It’s definitely the current political state of the world. The juxtaposition between racial injustice and cultural appropriation is so messy.
Where my parents are.
Over or under dressed?
Summer or winter?
Word you over-use?
Yeah and like.
Desert island beauty product (we’ll give you sunscreen)?
Hair conditioner (and a comb).
I can and I will.. watch me.
Can’t live without…