Ballerinas Do Exist on the Southside of Chicago
Back in April, right in the middle of the 51st street police station, Ballerina Bella twirled and spun around on pointed toe to Al Green’s “Let’s Stay Together” for the friends, as they celebrated another successful year at Club 51.
Ballerina Bella whose real name is Elexis Gibson was born and raised on the south side of Chicago. She has been dancing almost all her life, since she was 8 years old.
“So funny story, my mom always said I dance like a white girl so she put me in Studio One Dance. She put me in everything but hip hop; Ballet, Jazz, Tap, Modern, Point and some praise dancing. Just everything…”
After taking a hiatus from dancing when she was about 18 years old, Gibson said she began dancing again because it brought her joy. As she sharpens her skills she is constantly learning the sometimes strenuous effort it takes to accomplish these goals.
She said since she has been consistent in her journey she has been able to get some dancing gigs in the city and has even taken advantage of the free classes offered at the Rebuild Foundation over east. Being a freelance artist can become very budget-centered and keeping herself encouraged has helped her to stay focused on perfecting her art.
“If I’m not dancing professionally, I’m dancing because that’s just who I am. I’m not going to lie it is hard because most of these gigs I get are not paid but it’s great because I can use my material and recycle it. You know I can do whatever jobs that I want to do or If I wanna freestyle on this performance I can freestyle on this performance, I’m not constricted to anybody’s guidelines or rules,” said Gibson.
She takes pride in her hometown but she also acknowledges the disparities. One of her long term goals is to hold space for young people in Chicago someday, similar to her childhood experience at Studio One.
“I wanna create a space where this is the village and I kind of want to call it ‘The Village’ where [young people] come in, learn, have a good time and learn a skill. A place where kids can learn to express themselves and love themselves…,” said Gibson.
She also said she will continue to work hard and keep learning. She has participated in the free ballet classes at the The Rebuild Foundation and plans to enter the Miss Black America Beauty Pageant this fall.
Be sure to follow Gibson @theballerinabella