Ballet After Dark/HULU

RaceRadical Self CareSex & Gender

ballet after dark gets to the pointe of healing praxis

May 13, 2019
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I find Black ballerinas to be wondrous creatures. It’s probably because I’ve always had a dormant love of ballet and seeing ballerinas that look like me never gets old. Ballet had always been that pristine discipline removed from my experience as a Black girl but fellow Black girls like Tyde-Courtney Edwards, also known as the “Curvy Ballerina”, are using their gift for dance and personal trauma to bring the healing powers of dance to Black women who need it most.

Edwards is a Baltimore native who is trained in classical, contemporary, ballet, pointe, modern, lyrical, jazz, tap and hip-hop styles of dancing, having danced in the Debbie Allen Dance Academy and the Dance Theatre of Harlem, Peabody. In an essay penned by Edwards for Blavity, she writes, “Dance is a language that is easily translated on a universal scale. Since the inception of the rhythmic art form, the movement has been used an expression as well as an alternative form of therapy. Dance allows those without a voice to speak and to be heard.”

Edwards is a survivor of sexual violence who used dance as a gateway to her own healing. Through her own journey through her trauma, Edwards formulated a road-map that she felt was important to share with other survivors of sexual assault, offering them a way back to connecting with their sensuality and self-confidence. She names the program Ballet After Dark, using the practices within the discipline as well as an international online community to give survivors a way back to parts of themselves deeply traumatized by their ordeals. Classes are available to all women but Edwards, as a Black woman, wants to focus her healing energy on the African diaspora community that has not been familiarized with ballet.

“Reprocess. Rebuild. Reclaim Your Life’- a ballet-based, self-care workshops to survivors of sexual and domestic assault in an environment that encourages celebration of self,” is the description of the classes online, speaking to Edwards’ personal philosophy and dance journey. Edwards educates her students, particularly women of color, about the history of ballet and the healing effects it can have for a demographic that has been largely excluded from that world.


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#Repost @baltmag • • • • • Ballet was always Tyde-Courtney Edwards’ first love. But after experiencing an unimaginable assault, she fell into a deep depression. Terrified to leave the house, she avoided mirrors, showering, and any form of physical contact. “I went through phases where I wished he would’ve just killed me,” she says. Eventually, determined to reclaim her body—and life—she stepped back into the dance studio. “I needed something to think focus on other than what happened.” Years into her healing process, Edwards still found herself frustrated by the lack of recovery resources for trauma survivors. “I knew I could use ballet as a tool of empowerment when it came to restoring feelings of grace and elegance in women who had suffered horrible traumas,” she says. “There are people who prefer to move rather than talk, and I understood that.” So in May 2015, Edwards launched Ballet After Dark, a ballet-based program for sexual and domestic assault survivors. Nearly four years since the first class, Ballet After Dark has gained a loyal following and has become the subject of a documentary that will be shown at the Tribeca Film Festival this April. To read more on this inspiring program, visit the link in our profile. (📷 by @sean_scheidt_photography)

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I started following the Curvy Ballerina a few years ago — because Black ballerina, of course — and could not help but be taken by the effortlessness of her energy, lighting a joint while on pointe with trap music blasting in the background to the hazy, sage-filled foreground. You could feel the soothing energy through the screen. She was comfortable in her skin and through her genuine aspiration to spread healing and her keen sense of entrepreneurship and online savvy, she wants to build her international online community into a space reclamation of life after trauma. “We want our women to comfortably regain their womanhood following an assault,” says Edwards. “Women should be able to gradually talk openly about reclaiming their sensuality and sexuality.”

On top of being a dancer and online entrepreneur, Edwards is also an aspiring filmmaker who will debut under Queen Latifah’s producer effort, The Queen Collective. Edwards turned Ballet After Dark into a film that explores and shares the “Heal how you feel” mantra that lies at the foundation of the movement. The film just premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival. To see Edwards’ success feels like witnessing alchemy in action because I remember her posting about wanting to make a feature-length project about the movement — here we are now.

When Black trauma is deprioritized, resources for healing are few and far between — alternate resources less so. The power of Black women is the dedication to cultivating healing praxis in this resource abyss, and share it widely and with generosity. Activists and entrepreneurs like Edwards are doing the crucial groundwork to heal a community of survivors from within. Black women are the people most likely to create the spaces no one will create for us, from scratch. With Ballet After Dark, Edwards provides a way to chase life after trauma.

If you want to donate to the Ballet After Dark movement then visit their Kickstarter or share to show support.