Even as she began to feel that staying would not allow her to grow “fast enough for the hunger I had,” Fentroy’s identification with that mission made it difficult for her to consider leaving the troupe, she said. The more people she could learn from, the happier she would be in a bigger company. A new Dance Theater couldn’t afford the full-length classical ballets that she wanted to perform in, so she had to settle for smaller works by European choreographers.
All of that was available at Boston Ballet. So she reasoned, “I can carry these values with me.” When she arrived in Boston, she had no idea that she would be the only black woman in the city, or that it had been so long since the last time she had seen one. It can be difficult to express your feelings when you don’t know anyone who will understand, she said.
Take, for instance, the case of hair. Female dancers wear their hair down in George Balanchine’s “Chaconne,” and she recalls that “my hair was different from everyone else’s.” “I didn’t know what to ask or how to ask it.” It was decided that for some shows, she’d wear a hairpiece. So she decided to go out in public wearing her hair natural. According to her, it was “one of the most liberating moments in my life.” ‘It was a recognition of my presence onstage,’ she said.
It appeared that the pandemic shutdown had slowed her rise. Dancer: “When I wasn’t dancing, it felt as though I had lost a piece of myself” My “passionate energy” had to be put to good use.
It was during her downtime that she underwent ankle surgery, but after seeing George Floyd’s death, she decided to join the protests, even on crutches. “My Experience as Black Ballerina in World of Implicit Bias” was published in Pointe magazine in June of that year, educating readers about what Black dancers were going through and how they could help.
Her outspokenness (which she credits to Dance Theater) led to her being asked to join the Boston Ballet’s diversity, equity, and inclusion committee after she encouraged attendees at a town hall about race. She said, “I discovered that the staff was sensitive to my concerns.” The feeling of being able to use my voice to help others was empowering. Color Our Future, a mentorship programme, was founded by her.