The Swan Dreams Project
Aesha Ash of
The Swan Dreams Project
Meet Aesha Ash, an incredible woman who does not allow challenges to bring her to a halt, in fact, she thrives off them. Growing up in a low-income neighborhood in Rochester, NY, many would not have suspected her to rise up & become a ballerina, and yet she did, and an exceptional one at that, garnering scholarships to train at the prestigious School of American Ballet & land a corps de ballet position at the New York City Ballet by the age of 18. For any outsider, her success may appear glamorous, but her years as a student & professional ballerina were filled with much perseverance, as she battled feeling alone & other as the only woman of color in her class & in the company.
What kept Aesha motivated to continue fighting to be in a world where she felt she didn't fit in? A picture.
When Aesha was training, she came across a picture of another ballerina of color taking ballet class by the name of Andrea Long. Seeing this picture validated Aesha, and gave her the courage and strength to believe that if Andrea made it as a ballerina, she could too.
Just as Aesha experienced the power of that photograph in her own life, she uses the power of imagery in her mission today as the creator & founder of The Swan Dreams Project . In the beginning, Aesha's goal was to create images that would have the power of dispelling myths and stereotypes that many women of color face. She sought to portray both strength & confidence in tandem with an ethereal and angelic appearance. Working side by side with different photographers like Thaler Photography & Paul D Van Hoy II, Aesha began taking pictures around her hometown of Rochester, hoping to capture images that invoke thought and conversations within her community.
Once people saw these photographs, they were enamored. Aesha began receiving e-mails and messages from numerous fans saying how inspired they were by the beauty her images provoked. Unforeseen to Aesha, people then started asking to purchase the images, wanting to gift them for other young dancers to see. Instead of keeping the profits, Aesha determined to give back to the community and became more involved in donating images for fundraisers, teaching free ballet classes, and speaking at schools.
As the images continued to garner attention in the community and on the internet, Aesha's heart to inspire youth continued to grow.
Most recently, The Swan Dreams Project held their first ever week long ballet camp in Rochester, NY for children ages 6-13. The camp was particularly geared toward students with little to none ballet experience or exposure to ballet and incorporated education in technique, nutrition, etiquette, fitness, music, and a ballet performance on the very last day.
To see more incredible images from the camp and keep up with all the latest from The Swan Dreams Project be sure to follow:
Facebook: The Swan Dreams Project
Aesha's perseverance and heart are the key behind what makes The Swan Dreams Project so admirable and inspiring. To see how the project began in 2011 with the emergence of her photographs, to how The Swan Dreams has grown into a powerful non profit in 2018, makes me believe it will only continue to thrive in ways we couldn't of imagined far into the future!