I met Ingrid Silva in July 2014 in my studio apartment in Harlem. I had been running Fanm Djanm for three months out of my tiny studio when the idea of working with a ballerina in layered headwraps came to me. I didn’t know any dancers at the time so I posted on my instagram page about wanting to collaborate with a dark-skinned ballerina. My few hundred followers passed the word around and that’s how we were introduced. An Afro Brazilian dancer showed up to my door with a bright smile, strong Portuguese accent, and fiery personality. I knew we would remain friends from the first moments we shared. But I did not know how much our lives would change between the time we first worked together and the last time I photographed her and two-year old daughter in my house in Austin.
The first time we worked together, I had not learned photography yet. We worked with a friend to help me capture my vision. After getting her makeup done, we walked up to Frederick Douglass, made a left on 116th and made our way toward the cathedral. It was the first time I had ever seen a ballet dancer on pointe, let alone a black one. I was mesmerized. I felt like my dreams were already coming to life and I was wide awake. Ingrid was extremely passionate, and had incredible work ethics. She was a perfectionist, and would not stop until we captured the right movement. Her commitment inspired me from the very beginning.
When we reconnected nine years later at my house about a month ago, we were both much more confident in ourselves. We were both mothers. We both had thriving and exciting multidimensional careers. I felt empowered to be in her presence once more.
Ingrid just published her first children’s book, “A balairina que pintava suas sapatilhas”. She currently tours the world with her two-year old daughter with Dance Theater of Harlem. In addition to her successful dancing career, she was the first Black Brazilian dancer on the cover of Pointe Magazine. She has also graced the cover of Vogue Brazil while carrying her daughter. She is an author, activist, and served as cultural ambassador for the US. She has been featured in publications such as Vogue, Glamour, Teen Vogue, The New York Times, Dance Magazine, Essence, ESPN Women, and many more. She worked with Alicia Keys in the “She Is A King” campaign.
Find out what she has to say about her career and motherhood below.
What is the biggest thing that has surprised you in your career this far?
The amazing choreographers that I get to work everyday. They push me to the limit and unknown of myself, taking me to journey with myself.
What do you wish you knew before you dedicated your life to dancing?
I’m not sure. I like adventures and new experiences. I would rather just live than know beforehand.
How would you describe your life in this season?
It has been very meaningful and full. There’s something about becoming a mom that has unleashed the best in my life and artistry.
What are you most proud of?
I’m proud of the person I’ve become, it’s a full circle for me now. Also I’m so proud of my first children’s book. That’s a huge milestone in my life.
What are the top three most important things you'd like to pass down to Laura?
Honesty, love, and to dream big.
What has motherhood taught you?
Lots and lots of patience and nurture go a long way. She has been the best thing I’ve seen and lived with in my life. She has teaching me a lot everyday ♥️