Aesha Ash launched the Swan Dreams Project to inspire kids in the community she grew up in. As a Rochester, NY native, she knows what it's like to be one of the neighborhood kids and limiting yourself due to your current circumstances.
"They'd never know that I was dreaming of becoming a professional ballet dancer. No one would think, Someday she's going to make it into New York City Ballet," says Ash.
According to Dance Magazine, Ash went on to have an amazing career as a black ballerina with NYCB, Béjart's Ballet Lausanne and LINES. While she is no longer performing, she is using her dance background to change the stereotypes and misconceptions that people have about women of color.
"I want to show it's okay to embrace our softer side and let the world know we're multidimensional," says Ash. "I remember growing up and in the bodega you'd see images of girls in bikinis on motorbikes. I wanted to replace those with photos that show women of color in a different light."
That is why she is now using the power of imagery to change perception.
Remembering how she felt seeing images of black ballet dancer Andrea Long fueled her.
"That image was everything on days when I was feeling disenchanted. I'd see that picture of her, and know that the struggles I was going through, she went through them, too."
Now, she has made her own images available through an online store in addition to giving away prints at her own expense to schools and students in need of some inspiration. Ash, who is now a mother of two living in San Jose, CA, will also start teaching a free after-school ballet class at her daughter's public school next month.
What an amazing way to spread the magic to the baby black girls.
This post was originally published on Blavity.