Brooklyn Ballet’s wonder kids, 16-year-old twin brothers Shaakir and Naazir Muhammad, star in this beautiful montage about being in ballet and following their passion. Dubbed “the Billy Elliots of Brooklyn,” back in 2011, they won full scholarships to the prestigious American Ballet Theatre in Manhattan. Like the Broadway character, the boys had to overcome some major hurdles to fulfill their dreams. Read more about their journey here.
“The second I tell someone I’m a classically trained ballet dancer, they just look at me like, what? You? You’re a dancer? Look at the way you dress. And I’m like, you’re not seeing only the way I dress, you’re looking at my skin. That’s what you’re telling me,” says Shaakir.
“I remember when I first walking into xix Studios, me and Naazir walked in…the room got quiet. Like drop dead quiet. You could feel the people stare at you and I just felt like everyone here is scared of me. My hair is not flowy and stringy like a white boys hair. I don’t have the delicate features, you know, the soft colored eyes…I don’t have that. This is me, this is how I look and I’m not going to change it for you go so I can get some part.”
“The internalized racism was crazy…you shouldn’t be wearing tights with them white boys, you might turn gay…if you stand next to Naazir for more than 30 seconds you can turn gay…all of a sudden I look up and there are no kids around me. That didn’t bother me, honestly, because they can’t give me anything to make me prosper. I want to be the first African American principal dancer. Just to get written down in Black history and kids int he future are gonna do reports on me when I’m dead, well, me and my brother, not just me. We’ll see who gets there first.”