CHLOE ANAIS LOPES GOMES

AGE: 29

LOCATION: Berlin, Germany

IG HANDLE: @chloeanaislopes

It is our extreme honor to introduce you to German-based ballerina, Chloé Anais Lopes Gomes. Chloé and I have not met in person, but I connected with her on Instagram after watching a video of her dancing on YouTube. I was intrigued that she is the first Black ballerina at Berlin State Ballet and wanted to learn more. We connected on her life as a ballerina and how she is using dancing to fuel her through these unprecedented times.

S:

When did you begin dancing?

CG:

I started ballet when I was eight years old. For my birthday, I went to see Swan Lake with my mother. I remember being amazed by the dancers, the costumes, the sets, the music, the theater, there was a fairy tale atmosphere. At that moment, I knew I would become a dancer.

S:

Was dancing something that you loved immediately?

CG:

From as far as I can remember, dancing has always been a part of my life. I come from a large family that loves dance. When the family would get together on the weekends, there was always this great atmosphere. We would share a generous meal, followed by music and dancing.

S:

Were there any dancers of color that you admired early in your career?

CG:

At the Paris Opera, there was this magnificent black dancer, Eric Vuan, who was my director when I landed my first contract at the Nice Ballet.

S:

How does it feel to be the first and only black ballerina at Berlin State Ballet?

CG:

It's rare to see black protagonists in the big ballet companies. Also, for black dancers, it is very easy to identify ourselves and to find our inspiration on dancers from different nationalities (russian, italian, french, japanese, etc...).

S:

What was the process that led to being chosen for this ballet company?

CG:

When I started my season with the Staatsballet Berlin, I didn't know that I was the first dancer of color to join this prestigious dance company. I felt proud and privileged to have the opportunity to evolve around the best dancers. To join a dance company, you have to pass an audition. First you have to send a dance video in which you will perform a variation of the classical repertoire (ex: Sleeping beauty, Giselle, Swan lake, etc...). Once you are selected, you have to go to the big audition, which consists of an eliminatory classical dance class, followed by a contemporary workshop. Nowadays, it is very difficult to get a contract in dance, there are a lot of good dancers for very few spots.

S:

Although you don’t live in the US, how were you impacted by the Black Lives Matter marches and events surrounding the death of George Floyd?

CG:

The whole world revolted against the death of George Floyd, but unfortunately, he was not an isolated case. A similar thing happened in France recently. A young black man died as a result of a number of police men on top of him until he could no longer breathe. As a black person, I feel concerned, but this situation does not only concern minorities. All of humanity must be concerned! As human beings, are we prepared to let such acts be perpetuated?

S:

Tell us a little bit about the inspiration behind the piece ‘Now is the Time’ you created for Vogue magazine.

CG:

I decided to create a dance in view of the recent events that took place in France and in the USA. I think that dance is a universal language that everyone understands whatever we are -- black or white, rich or poor. Dance is a universal language that everyone can understand. Through ‘Now is the Time’, I hoped to support the struggles against racism, and to raise awareness of this cause.

S:

There has been a lot happening in 2020, how have you been during these unprecedented times?

CG:

During the lockdown, I had a pretty rough time. As a dancer, to not be able to train, to not be able to live in your passion, it's very hard mentally. I had to relearn to live without dancing, to rest my body, to be interested in other things, like learning German for example :)

S:

In an industry where you are one of a very small number of Black ballerinas, how do you keep a positive self-image?

CG:

Why shouldn't I have a positive image as a black dancer? In my eyes, the black woman is beautiful, feminine, strong and majestic. On the other hand, I think that black dancers don't support each other enough, since there are so few of us, there is certainly competition.

S:

What are some of your self-care habits and rituals?

CG:

Lately I was injured, and from that moment I started a new routine. Before my training, I warm up for an hour. I do muscle strength exercises, foot stabilization, abdominal exercises, and I ride my bike to warm up my body. Also, I try to eat a lot of vegetables and fruits.
‘‘
Why shouldn't I have a positive image as a black dancer? In my eyes, the black woman is beautiful, feminine, strong and majestic.
’’

S:

Do you feel that self-care if particularly important for women of color? If so, why?

CG:

Self-care is equally as important for women of color as others. From my own experience, having afro hair, I spend more time taking care of my hair than most people do.

S:

Do you have a routine to prepare for show days?

CG:

I have a routine before my show. I do my makeup, my hair and I do a little barre to warm myself while listening to Diana Ross.

S:

What brings you joy?

CG:

I don't need a lot to be happy. I like to share good moments with my relatives, to travel, to go on long hikes. I like to eat but I don't like to cook. I also find joy in discovering new things, new cultures, making new traditions.

S:

Either in your home or elsewhere, where is your Sanctuaire (sanctuary) for peace and well-being?

CG:

My sanctuary is when I'm with my family or boyfriend by the sea.

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