This week’s person of power is Amanda Smith, a ballet dancer who gives 200 percent in everything she does. “Nothing I do is mediocre. Nothing I do is half of what it needs to be,” she says.

Her confidence is intoxicating and well-earned. She’s been dancing since she was three years old, and hasn’t stopped since. “Within my own craft, I take everything very seriously,” she says. “I give it my all no matter what it is, from the smallest play to the biggest grand jeté.”

At age 12, she began training in classical and contemporary ballet. That studying carried her far: she danced in the Anaheim Ballet and received a scholarship to the dance program at the State University of New York at Purchase. Amanda stayed in New York, although she originally hails from California. She joined the Dance Theatre of Harlem in 2017, where she’s had to work through the limitations of the pandemic to continue her craft.

“The struggle was extremely real because dancing in your living room is nearly impossible. Trying to continue to train in your technique and trying to grow was very, very frustrating. Having that constraint of being in tight space, and not being able to go to your fullest ability, I had to kind of go back to the basics, and go back to my foundation,” she says.

But Amanda tries to keep looking on the bright side of things — quarantine has given her time to pay attention to and work on the nitty-gritty details of her dance skills and slow down for a minute.

“[I’ve been able to] refine my technique, so that when we come out of this, I'm stronger than ever, and I’ve had to just find peace within myself and remind myself why I do this,” she says.

“I want to set an example to others, especially women and men of color and young children of color. It's just so essential to keep pushing through, and to remind people that we're resilient, no matter what.”

Arthur Mitchell, the first African-American principal dancer in the New York City Ballet, founded the Dance Theatre of Harlem in 1969. His project, much like Amanda’s, was to showcase the artistic abilities of Black people on stage in a way that had previously been ignored.

“He founded the company after Martin Luther King was assassinated. He was on his way to Brazil to start a company, but once Martin Luther King was assassinated, he realized, no, my country needs art right now, and they need to see the royalty of what women and men of color can do on the stage, and how we can be just as classical as anyone else,” she explains. “I think it's just really important to see that.”

Amanda has been outspoken about Black Lives Matter on social media, using her platform to direct those who’d like to learn more to links of resources, education, and ways to help.

“I want people to understand the Black Lives Matter movement is something as simple as this: it's basic human rights, and it's equality,” she said. “We're not asking to be better than anybody, we're literally asking for equality. And that's really all it is.”

Dance is a different kind of art form: it’s not the same as taking a paintbrush to a canvas or writing a beautiful song. It crosses the line between forms and sets Blackness to music in the form of a body.

“Dance is a healing mechanism to the world. I think that when people go to see a show, it is a way of escaping from their life. It’s a majestic place where people can just dream and imagine and see things differently. As I move through my art, I think of that. That's why we have to continue to keep this art form alive.”

As a dancer of color, she feels it’s her responsibility to share her talent with others. The classical dance world can often lack diversity, but Amanda hopes to inspire other young dancers to take a chance on themselves.

Pandemic or not, the show must go on.

“[I think about] the generations that are behind me, and what kind of example I am setting within my art form. As a brown ballerina, I think it's really important to really keep going because there are so many young dancers that are looking up to this generation of dancers.”

“I want to continue to show them that it is possible — no matter what skin color you are, you can be a ballet dancer of any kind.”

And despite all the challenges of the past year, Amanda intends to continue pushing past any obstacles that may get in her way. “2020 has really shown me that I can do anything as long as I continue to keep my eye on the prize and know that there's so much more to this life than these things that are thrown at us.”

The sky’s the limit for Amanda. She wants to be more involved in television and film work, and maybe even some Broadway musicals. “I’m just kind of branching out in different places. 2020 has definitely taught me that again, anything is possible and I'm starting a book, and I'm going to start a leotard line,” she says.

“I believe that God has given us a gift — each and every one of us. I think we all have a purpose, and what's the point of living if you're not going to live to the fullest extent?”

For every tattoo sold, the independent artist who created it makes money. Amanda’s collab is out now — check it out, and twirl into tattoos that represent just how much you’ve overcome.

Author: Melinda Faukuade
Photo: Zabel Castillo
Video: Ben Hype
Creative Director: Becky Brown
Creative Producer: Rasheem Jamar
Senior Designer: Kelsey Cadenas
Casting Director: Jacqueline Rosa

This week’s person of power is Amanda Smith, a ballet dancer who gives 200 percent in everything she does. “Nothing I do is mediocre. Nothing I do is half of what it needs to be,” she says.

Her confidence is intoxicating and well-earned. She’s been dancing since she was three years old, and hasn’t stopped since. “Within my own craft, I take everything very seriously,” she says. “I give it my all no matter what it is, from the smallest play to the biggest grand jeté.”

At age 12, she began training in classical and contemporary ballet. That studying carried her far: she danced in the Anaheim Ballet and received a scholarship to the dance program at the State University of New York at Purchase. Amanda stayed in New York, although she originally hails from California. She joined the Dance Theatre of Harlem in 2017, where she’s had to work through the limitations of the pandemic to continue her craft.

“The struggle was extremely real because dancing in your living room is nearly impossible. Trying to continue to train in your technique and trying to grow was very, very frustrating. Having that constraint of being in tight space, and not being able to go to your fullest ability, I had to kind of go back to the basics, and go back to my foundation,” she says.

But Amanda tries to keep looking on the bright side of things — quarantine has given her time to pay attention to and work on the nitty-gritty details of her dance skills and slow down for a minute.

“[I’ve been able to] refine my technique, so that when we come out of this, I'm stronger than ever, and I’ve had to just find peace within myself and remind myself why I do this,” she says.

“I want to set an example to others, especially women and men of color and young children of color. It's just so essential to keep pushing through, and to remind people that we're resilient, no matter what.”

Arthur Mitchell, the first African-American principal dancer in the New York City Ballet, founded the Dance Theatre of Harlem in 1969. His project, much like Amanda’s, was to showcase the artistic abilities of Black people on stage in a way that had previously been ignored.

“He founded the company after Martin Luther King was assassinated. He was on his way to Brazil to start a company, but once Martin Luther King was assassinated, he realized, no, my country needs art right now, and they need to see the royalty of what women and men of color can do on the stage, and how we can be just as classical as anyone else,” she explains. “I think it's just really important to see that.”

Amanda has been outspoken about Black Lives Matter on social media, using her platform to direct those who’d like to learn more to links of resources, education, and ways to help.

“I want people to understand the Black Lives Matter movement is something as simple as this: it's basic human rights, and it's equality,” she said. “We're not asking to be better than anybody, we're literally asking for equality. And that's really all it is.”

Dance is a different kind of art form: it’s not the same as taking a paintbrush to a canvas or writing a beautiful song. It crosses the line between forms and sets Blackness to music in the form of a body.

“Dance is a healing mechanism to the world. I think that when people go to see a show, it is a way of escaping from their life. It’s a majestic place where people can just dream and imagine and see things differently. As I move through my art, I think of that. That's why we have to continue to keep this art form alive.”



As a dancer of color, she feels it’s her responsibility to share her talent with others. The classical dance world can often lack diversity, but Amanda hopes to inspire other young dancers to take a chance on themselves.

Pandemic or not, the show must go on.

“[I think about] the generations that are behind me, and what kind of example I am setting within my art form. As a brown ballerina, I think it's really important to really keep going because there are so many young dancers that are looking up to this generation of dancers.”

“I want to continue to show them that it is possible — no matter what skin color you are, you can be a ballet dancer of any kind.”

And despite all the challenges of the past year, Amanda intends to continue pushing past any obstacles that may get in her way. “2020 has really shown me that I can do anything as long as I continue to keep my eye on the prize and know that there's so much more to this life than these things that are thrown at us.”

The sky’s the limit for Amanda. She wants to be more involved in television and film work, and maybe even some Broadway musicals. “I’m just kind of branching out in different places. 2020 has definitely taught me that again, anything is possible and I'm starting a book, and I'm going to start a leotard line,” she says.

“I believe that God has given us a gift — each and every one of us. I think we all have a purpose, and what's the point of living if you're not going to live to the fullest extent?”

For every tattoo sold, the independent artist who created it makes money. Amanda’s collab is out now — check it out, and twirl into tattoos that represent just how much you’ve overcome.

Author: Melinda Faukuade
Photo: Zabel Castillo
Video: Ben Hype
Creative Director: Becky Brown
Creative Producer: Rasheem Jamar
Senior Designer: Kelsey Cadenas
Casting Director: Jacqueline Rosa