December 2011 | Hip-Hop From a Ballet Perspective

“Hip-hop nurtures individual style,” Wharton says. (Photo by Quinn Wharton and Dores André)

Dance, for me, has always been about having fun. I dance with San Francisco Ballet, but I didn’t start with ballet. I began with hip-hop when I was very young, at Ewajo, a small dance studio in Seattle.

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A Ballerina’s Gift

I was exhausted and wanted nothing more than a hot bath and bed, but something kept me from brushing this girl off. All I had left were my warm-up shoes—de-shanked and shabby—but on impulse I dug into my ballet bag, pulled them out, and offered them to her. The huge smile that instantly transformed her face brought a smile to mine as well, and I asked for her sister’s name so I could sign the shoes.

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