Black Ballerina Told to ‘Rub the Black Off’ in Russia

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By Daphne R

Precious Adams, an 18 year old ballerina who hails from Detroit is soon to become the first African American ballerina to finish at the Moscow State Academy of Choreography in the spring. But while attending the ballet school affiliated with the iconic Bolshoi Theater she has had to face persistent discrimination.

In an interview she shares her experience of a typical day at Bolshoi Ballet Academy. A group of young ladies would gather in a practice room waiting to be inspected and selected for parts in the Academy’s 240th anniversary celebration featuring superstars and ballet students from around the world.

A female instructor enters the room, looks the girls over, criticizing whether they are too heavy, too skinny or just not the right look. She steps to Precious and asked curtly, ‘What are you doing here?’ Then she asks her to leave the room. Although Precious has a pretty slender frame she doesn’t look like the other students because she is black.

Precious is no stranger to being left out of shows because of the color of her skin. In fact, she had one instructor tell her to ‘try and rub the Black off’ so that she could look more like the fairer, paler girls in her class, a look the directors favor for shows.

‘Precious said, ‘Some of the teachers know in the back of their minds that it is unfair, because they know that I can do what these other people are doing just as good if not better than them. Teachers have tried to vouch for me before, but of the almighty voice says it’s not right – it doesn’t look right – then whatever they say goes.’

Precious began ballet lessons at the tender age of 5, and by 9 she had joined the studio of Sergei Ravevsky not far from home. Later, she moved away to study and develop her talent in Toronto, New York and Monaco before winning a scholarship to study abroad in Russia at Bolshoi Academy in Moscow. The scholarship was awarded for her to study Russian and ballet during a summer intensive program. School tuition is approximately 680,000 rubles ($21,000). The school currently has about 20 America students.


Daphne R is an experienced marketing and communications professional that provides social commentary, self-help, tips, and reports news of events that matter to African Americans.



  1. Sistagirl from the Boogie Down Bronx

    January 9, 2014 at 2:08 pm

    Perhaps this is why we should all make a donation to Alvin Ailey Dance so that they will continue to survive and train our future dancers. SMH…

    • venus baptiste

      January 10, 2014 at 1:07 am

      Yes! we don’t support high art forms such as this and Alvin Aly but if it were a young lady twerking to some Beyonce, Rihanna, or Minaj they’d be more than willing to fund her! SMH Our people are soooo messed up!

      • venus baptiste

        January 10, 2014 at 1:08 am

        I’m sorry Alvin Ailey.

  2. Yocheved

    January 9, 2014 at 5:09 pm

    I’m not surprised. Russians are racist against everyone. Ukrainians, Ural mountain minorities, Jews, basically anyone who isn’t “pure bred Russian”.

    Props to Ms. Adam’s parents for raising such a strong young woman, who can stand strong in such a hostile situation. If she can survive Russia, that lady is going to take the whole world by storm!

    • lemar brown

      January 10, 2014 at 12:56 am

      A frican Americans, were.going to have to stand up and demand respect. It does no good telling on racists.start fighting back. That’s all they understand is extreme violence

    • venus baptiste

      January 10, 2014 at 1:04 am

      Don’t forget how they treat gays! Anyone that treats there own countrymen this way is a place I’d soon not visit let alone live! And just to think that’s where Snowden wanted to go! I’d take eavesdropping on my silly everyday conversations than being treated this way!

  3. norman Russell

    January 9, 2014 at 7:16 pm

    Time to show more support to the vision of Arthur Mitchell and his creation of “The Dance Theatre of Harlem”…black persons universally MUST never,ever accept discrimation…..”Like the dying of the light/rage against it !!!!

  4. Ronnie Hughes

    January 10, 2014 at 8:57 am


  5. Jelena

    January 10, 2014 at 8:58 pm

    @Shawn D Aiken and Venus Baptiste Where did you get your info on Haile Selassie? Would like to research more and would appreciate it if you would point me in the right direction.

  6. Jelena

    January 10, 2014 at 9:01 pm

    @Shawn D Aiken and Venus Baptiste Where did you get your info on Haile Selassie? Please point me in the right direction to research this more.

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