A trailblazing and pioneering Ballerina has passed away. The dance world is mourning the loss or Raven Wilkinson, reported Essence.
The 83-year-old dancer began dancing at the age of 5. She was one of the first African-American women to dance for a major ballet company.
She began studying at the Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo in 1955 when she was just 20 years old. After six years at the prestigious theater company, she left because she experienced racial discrimination.
“I didn’t want to put the company in danger, but I also never wanted to deny who I was,” she told Point Magazine in 2014. “If someone questioned me directly, I couldn’t say, ‘No, I’m not black.’ Some of the other dancers suggested that I say I was Spanish. But that’s like telling the world there’s something wrong with what you are.”
She found her place at the Dutch National Ballet. She used her unparalleled talent there until she joined the New York City Opera in 1974.
She had a major influence on the future of the dance world. Renowned ballerina Misty Copeland cited her as a lifelong mentor.
“She experienced a lot more severe, life-threatening racism than other minorities experienced in the ballet world at this point,” Copeland said of Wilkinson in a 2014 interview with NPR.
Wilkinson just recently celebrated her 83rd birthday in early November. News of her passing was first shared by Slipped Disc. Additional details on her death have not yet been released.
Please pray for all those who are mourning her passing. She was truly a remarkable woman,