Janet Fay Collins: The African-American Dream

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Janet Fay Collins was the Metropolitan Opera's first African-American Prima Ballerina who broke the color barrier, paving the way for African-American dancers to come after her. Janet was born on March 2nd, 1917 in New Orleans, Louisiana. At the age of four years old she moved with her family to Los Angeles, California. There, she was enrolled into a Catholic Community Center for dance training. Her family did not have money to pay for Janet’s training. So as the idiom goes “ one hand washes the other,” Janet’s mother created and sewed the costumes for the students dance recitals.Later on in life Collins majored in art at Los Angeles City College. She later transferred to the Los Angeles Art Center School where she continued her studies in dance rather than in art.…show more content…
With this being said it was hard for Janet to have supporters in the world of ballet. Since skin color played a major role for African-American dancers, they had to go extra lengths in order to have the opportunity to perform with dance companies. No matter how amazing of a dancer an African-American person was they were still not accepted in some places due to the color of their skin. Some companies either made black dancers paint their skin white or take what was known as the “paper bag test.” For the “paper bag test,” black dancers had to hold up a paper bag up next to their face if they were darker than the bag they were not allowed to perform with the companies. This goes to show that if you were not white it was hard to be a dancer in those times. These two examples show clearly the color barriers that African-American dancers faced on a day-to-day basis. The color barriers made it hard for African American dancers to prosper in the world of
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