Ingrid Silva

Brazilian ballet dancer

Ingrid Silva (b. 1988) is a Brazilian ballet dancer with the Dance Theatre of Harlem.

Ingrid Silva was born in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, where she began training at age eight at the Dançando Para Não Dançar, a program that provided classical ballet training to young people who could not otherwise afford dance classes. Throughout her childhood, Silva was inspired by Brazilian ballet dancers Mercedes Baptista and Ana Botafogo. Outside of Baptista, however, she had few black Brazilian ballet dancers to idolize. Silva’s passion for increased Afro-Brazilian visibility in ballet combined with her mother’s unwavering support inspired Silva to be her own role model at a young age.

By 17, Silva was an apprentice at Grupo Corpo, one of the most prestigious dance companies in Brazil. In 2007, she was accepted into the Dance Theatre of Harlem’s Summer Intensive Program in New York on a full scholarship. The following year, she joined the company’s community engagement project, Dancing Through Barriers. In 2013, Silva joined the company full time, where she remains today. She felt affirmed by the Dance Theatre of Harlem’s celebration of African American culture through performance, community engagement, and arts education programs.

Silva held principal and soloist roles for renowned choreographers including Arthur Mitchell, Donald Byrd, John Alleyne, Darrell Grand Moultrie, Francesca Harper, and Robert Garland, among many others.

ballet pointe shoe custom-colored with cosmetics to a dark brown to match the skin tone of the dancer.

Custom-colored toe shoe worn by Ingrid Silva of Dance Theatre of Harlem, 2013–14.

Manufactured by Capezio

2015.19.3.1

Gift of the Dance Theatre of Harlem

In 2017, she became a brand ambassador for Activia and starred in a short film, Journey to Your Dream, which won a Cannes Silver Lion for Film Craft and other international awards. The film takes viewers through Silva’s childhood in a poor Rio suburb, her struggle to learn English and support herself in New York, and her achievement as a dancer with the Dance Theatre of Harlem. She has been featured in publications across the globe and was Pointe magazine’s first black Brazilian cover model.

Silva has served as a cultural ambassador for the U.S. State Department, participated in community outreach initiatives in Jamaica, Honduras, and Israel, and spoke at the 2018 United Nations Social Good Summit. Silva also founded EmpowHer, a collaborative platform for women to share their stories and achieve their goals.

From the start of Silva’s ballet career, she applied a mixture of cosmetic products to the standard pink-colored ballet shoes to make them match her skin tone. She often gives advice on this process via social media to other aspiring black ballerinas. In November 2019, Silva finally received a pair of Chacott ballet shoes manufactured with darker skin shades in mind.

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