Destiny Wimpye, 14, has been dancing for 11 years. She grew up in Atlanta, Georgia, but moved to Los Angeles five years ago to dance at the Debbie Allen Dance Academy. This is her first year in the Dance Academy. (Photo: Rhi Lee Photography)
This interview has been lightly edited for style and clarity.
How did you start dancing?
At daycare when I was younger, different people would come in each week to teach us. It was mainly academic stuff, but there was a dance school too. One of the teachers was like, ‘She’s a really good dancer. She should really come to our studio and actually be serious about dance.’ My mom was like, ‘Oh you know, she’s young, it’s not that serious.’ She kept trying to convince my mom like, ‘Come on, she really needs to dance,’ so I finally did it.
I started off with competition dance. It’s completely different. In competition dance, you don’t really train; you learn different dances and then perform them to get awards. There are costumes and everything, which is kind of the same in ballet. But in ballet, you actually get to focus on technique. I love competition because I learned how to perform and can bring that into ballet.
This is actually my first year doing all ballet, which is why I decided to come to Colburn. In previous years I’ve done all styles, but I’ve always loved looking at ballet dancers. I think they’re so beautiful. I think it’s great to be versatile, but I was like, ‘This is the year that I really need to focus on what I want to do.’
How was the transition from competition to ballet?
I think it was easier for me since I didn’t go straight to ballet like a lot of other girls. I did jazz and tap for competition, so I was used to it when I went to a studio that was more versatile. Ballet is a whole different thing, so it was a hard transition for me. It’s something I love to do though, so I’m trying to figure it out.
How do you think having a background in other styles has affected your ballet training?
I feel like it’s easier to learn to be rigid and strict, like in ballet, than to break it down and become looser. A lot of dancers are used to that aspect of ballet so when you ask them to do more contemporary ballets they’re like, ‘Oh gosh this is weird.’ So I’m kind of happy that I know how to do other styles so I can really work on ballet.
You’re an ambassador for Brown Girls Do Ballet, and you use Instagram to promote their mission. What is that like?
It’s an amazing organization. I’m also an ambassador for Discount Dance, so that’s really great too. A lot of people don’t really like social media but I think it’s important to put yourself out there because it can help you make more money in your career. Doing interviews and being active on social media are good ways to do that, so that’s why I keep up my social media presence.
What’s your social media philosophy?
My goal with my social media is to inspire, because that’s what I love about dance: that it inspires people. There are some accounts that I look at and I’m really impressed by how high their legs are or whatever, but my social media isn’t about being perfect. It’s about my journey and my story and how I can get to a place that I want to be. I think social media is important, but I’m not crazy and obsessed with it.
What’s it like being a brown girl in ballet?
I think it’s kind of harder, because it’s not really what you expect us to being doing. But it doesn’t matter what race you are. Whatever you want to do, you want to do, and color can’t stop you from doing it. I love ballet, and I don’t care who tells me I can’t do it because of what I look like. If it’s something you really want to do and you put work into it, you can do it.
I’m also trying to show people with social media that it doesn’t matter what race you are or where you come from. As long as you love it and you put hard work into it, I feel like you can do anything.
Does anyone else in your family dance?
I’m the only child on my mom’s side, but on my dad’s side I have a brother and four sisters. None of them dance whatsoever, I don’t know where I got it from. My mom doesn’t dance either. It’s just me.
What do they think of you dancing?
They’re really proud of me and really happy. Since I live with my mom, she’s the one that takes me places and moves with me, so I think she appreciates it the most. She’s willing to support me in any way. That’s why I love my mom so much, because she’s done so much for me. She’s in Georgia, and I miss her every day, but she calls me every day. She misses me so much, but she understands what I’m trying to do, and all she wants me to do is work really hard.
What might you want to do in the future?
Hopefully I’ll be in New York in a ballet company somewhere. I love New York, I always have. There’s something about it, like maybe the fact that everybody has a goal and somewhere to be. I don’t know why, I just love New York. A lot of people think it’s hectic but I kind of love that.
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