Written by: Gabriella Alleyne
KTM’s Girl of the Month for Issue 4 is Destiny Wimpye! She is a 16-year-old ballet dancer. You’ve probably seen her amazing dance photos on Instagram and her exceptional videos of her turning on pointe. Destiny is a Brown Girls Do Ballet and Discount Dance Ambassador, an AS Dancewear Mentee, and an advocate for representation for girls of color in the ballet world. To learn more about Destiny’s journey continue reading the interview Kaleidoscope Teen Magazine had with her!
1. When did you begin dancing?
I started dancing at age 3, so I’ve been dancing for 13 years.
2. What is your favorite style of dance?
My favorite style of dance… I really like ballet. I’m a ballet dancer, that’s definitely become my favorite. In the beginning, it wasn’t. I used to like jazz because I was a competition dancer, so I did more jazz and hip-hop and different things like that.
3. What is your favorite ballet technique, and why?
Balanchine! Just because I feel like it is so exciting, stylistic, and it’s very new. I feel like it’s the first style I ever really learned and trained in when it comes to ballet. I like it because I think it’s just so energetic and it’s a different take on the classical ballets that you see. I guess Balanchine dancers have this excitement about them that is really interesting to watch.
4. What brand of pointe shoes do you wear?
I wear Freeds. So, my first pair were Blochs, then I wore Russians for a bit, and then I wore Gaynors for a really long time, and I was a Gaynor Girl. But now I wear Freeds, and I love them, they’re really nice.
5. Where have you gotten your dance training?
Recently I just got accepted to Pacific Northwest Ballet, the PD program. I’m really excited about that.
I’m almost at the part where I’m auditioning for companies and different things like that. I’m still young; I’m about to be 17 in September. So I can’t really audition for companies, but I think with this program it’s a good opportunity to meet Artistic Directors and different things like that.
6. What summer intensives have you attended?
I was 11 during my first summer intensive, I think. Then I went to Ailey for 2 years in New York. And then I went to SAB in 2017, and I went to PNB in 2018. In 2019, I went to SAB, and then I just did PNB virtual this year.
7. What has been your favorite summer intensive?
It’s hard because I really liked PNB. It felt very relaxed and free there and there’s great training. But I also love New York so much. So it’s really hard to pick, but if I had to choose I think I would say PNB just because I felt like I learned a lot there and I grew a lot. But I love New York, I’m a sucker for New York.
8. Is your goal to become a professional dancer?
Yes, I want to be a principal dancer in a ballet company. You know, get into a company and work my way up, so that’s the goal.
9. Which company would you like to be a part of?
There’s so many. Honestly, I’d pick any Balanchine company or any company that does a lot of Balanchine repertoire. PNB is great, I love the New York City Ballet company. It really doesn’t matter to me. I don’t have an exact company I want to be in, but I think wherever it takes me, wherever my career decides to take me. And it might not be a Balanchine company, but I really would like to be in a company that does a lot of Balanchine rep because I just love Balanchine.
10. Where do you see yourself in 5 years, 10 years?
Ahhh that’s scary. Definitely in a company, hopefully by then in 5 years. Just continuing to dance, continuing to inspire, and different things like that. But in 10 years, I want to be a principal dancer in a company. That’s really early, it’s hard, but it depends on the company really and how they promote people. It’s still dancing, still being in a company. Also maybe I will be teaching more in 10 years.
11. As I’ve seen on your Instagram, you are an amazing turner; do you have any tips for dancers who want to improve their turns?
Something that I always found about turning is obviously you have to have a turned out passe, but if you really think about getting to the position quickly instead of just slowly getting up when you’re turning it helps. Also, using your arms and spotting! Spotting really helps for me. Find a direct thing that to look at and make sure to get your head around. to that spot.
And also, I like to plan out how many turns I’m going to do, so it’s not like I’m going for a triple, and if I do a double I fall out because it wasn’t a triple. So plan out how many turns you want to end up doing, and usually, that works for me.
12. Do you have any advice for aspiring young dancers?
Just working hard. If you love it, that’s going to get you far already, but you also have to have a great work ethic. Because I feel like technically I started late because I didn’t really start training in ballet seriously until I was 13. So I think my work ethic really got me far, and I think if somebody has that type of work ethic, dedication, and love for what you’re doing you can get as far as you want to get.
13. What advice would you give to your younger self?
Honestly, I’m still trying to take this advice myself, but just to be more confident in you and know that your journey is different than other people’s. If somebody is at a certain place and they’re the same age as you, that doesn’t mean that’s where you need to be right now. Understand that your journey is different than the person next to you. You guys are going to be at different places. Maybe you’re at the same place, but you’re going to get there in different ways.
Also, do not put all of your eggs in one basket. Not focusing on just one place for your whole life because that might not be God’s plan for you. So I think just trusting yourself and having confidence. And I’m still working on that myself. Be confident in what you can do and your personal journey.
14. What companies (relating to dance) are you an ambassador for or have been an ambassador for in the past?
I’m a Brown Girls Do Ballet Ambassador. I’ve been an ambassador for them for years. Also, I’m a Discount Dance Ambassador, and I’ve also been with them for years. And also, I am an AS Dancewear Mentee, so that’s new. I was a Gaynor Girl for a little bit. And I’ve just been working on other things that I don’t know about yet. But those are the top ones.
15. Have you had the opportunity to teach dance? If so, what has been your experience teaching?
Yes, so I’m actually teaching now through zoom and different things like that. While also social distancing and wearing a mask. I’ve been teaching younger kids, and it’s really great, and I’ve learned a lot about myself too, and my dancing. Because you know if you’re correcting somebody you’re like, “wait I could use that correction too.” It’s been a good experience, and I’ve learned a lot about teachers. I already have respect for teachers, but I gained a lot more because it’s hard trying to read a student sometimes in a class. So I just realize how difficult teaching is, and I sweat a lot.
16. Has being in quarantine affected your dance training? What changes have you had to make?
Oh definitely! So I couldn’t do any of my last performances at Colburn. I had a show in March, and we couldn’t even do it. We left in March, so I came back home. Also, I had a show in June that I couldn’t perform. So it definitely has. It’s really sad too because I’m leaving, so those were my final performances with them. I really got a role that I wanted to perform, and it didn’t work out. And you know we’ve all been doing zoom, which is different, it’s new, it’s difficult. It’s definitely difficult to stay focused, but you have to push yourself. It’s hard, and it’s not an easy thing to do. So I applaud all of the dancers who are on zoom and trying to work that out. Also, I live in an apartment, so I had to get my marley floor, and I can’t jump very much because I don’t want to be too loud. Also, these are bad floors to jump on. We’re all struggling.
17. How has being a dancer of color impacted your experience in the dance community?
For me, I’ve been one of the lucky ones. I feel like I haven’t experienced anything too crazy when it comes to the color of my skin and just different things like that. I feel different when I walk into a room, but honestly, it motivates me actually because I think about all of the people that I’m going to inspire if I keep working hard and get to the level of training I want to be at. And then they’ll be little girls looking and being like I can do that. I love more representation for people who look like me in really good companies, especially Balanchine companies. So I haven’t had any crazy experiences, but I know how it feels to walk into a room and be different from everybody else.
18. Have you used your platform on social media to promote social justice? And how do you think others can use their platform to create awareness and action?
Yes, I definitely use my platform. I think I’ve always been using my platform, and I’m happy that people are speaking up and taking a stand on things that are going on because we need change, and it needs to happen. People are still not changing and still deciding that they just want to be the same. And it’s going to change soon because they have to listen, they have to open their ears.
I think I’ve been using my platform ever since I got a platform. I think I’ve been using it to talk about skin color, different color pointe shoes that we need, different color ballet shoes, different color tights, and different things that we need. Also normalizing body types. Ballet has a “look” and aesthetic that people want us to live up to, but that doesn’t work for everybody. We can’t compare ourselves to someone who has a whole different ethnic background than you do and a whole different body type. So I think just trying to have people understand that everybody’s different and we’re different for a reason. And I think once people start to listen to that and understand that, when we get into these companies they’ll be more accepting and I really hope that happens in the near future.
19. How do you think social media is beneficial for the arts?
I think social media is a great thing when it comes to arts because you can get opportunities just based on social media. Not just if you have a platform. People can find you on social media very easily. I know I’ve had experiences like that. I was on This Is Us, and I got that through my agency, but the choreographer followed me on Instagram and found me through there. So I think just using social media, and you don’t necessarily have to have thousands of followers or a million followers on Instagram. But just showing your talent that can really be beneficial. They can look you up and see what you can do because sometimes at an audition you get one glance and that’s it. So you just never know.
20. How do you define being an artist?
I define being an artist as loving what you do, being dedicated, and no matter what that is whether it’s dance, singing, acting, because I feel like for me my work ethic and my dedication to the art form, especially ballet since it’s so hard and so challenging. I think that if you have that focus and that mentality of knowing what you want to do and loving what you do, you’re going to go far. So I think being an artist is just about loving your artform, loving other artforms, supporting other artists, and just being there for other people.
We hope you enjoyed reading the interview Kaleidoscope Teen Magazine had with Destiny about her dance journey and how she got to where she is today. To keep up to date with Destiny you can follow her on Instagram @destinywimpye and subscribe to her YouTube channel: Destiny Wimpye