In our fourth installment of our 6 part campaign, we present Alison Stroming to talk about what it means to her to BE YOUR OWN Woman in the 21st century.
I was born in Recife, Brazil, and was adopted by an American family in New Jersey when I was eight months old. Coming from a family of dancers, my mom put me into my first dance class at two years old just for fun, not knowing it would turn into something. My parents let me try everything growing up, sports, gymnastics, horseback riding, swimming, but dance just felt right and I immediately fell in love. I was also very shy as a young girl, so dance helped me break out of my shell and express myself. My ballet teacher encouraged me to audition for the School of American Ballet and I was accepted to the Children’s Division II when I was nine years old. I stayed at SAB for three years and then switched to the Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis School at American Ballet Theatre when I was twelve years old.
I spent 5 years at the JKO School and one year as a member of American Ballet Theatre II (now ABT Studio Company). Throughout my ballet training, I made many memories performing all around the world including the Metropolitan Opera House, Kennedy Center, and even overseas in Europe for a month when I was 17 years old. I also met some amazing people including the incomparable Misty Copeland, who took me under her wing as my mentor when I was 15. It was very important for me to have someone to look up to, especially when I was one of the few dancers of colour in the school and Misty made me feel comfortable and was always supportive.
My professional career began when I was 18 years old and I spent two years in Alberta Ballet in Canada and then one year in California dancing with Ballet San Jose.
I am currently in my third year as a member of the Dance Theatre of Harlem and have toured across the country and overseas in Tel Aviv and Italy with the company. Being back in New York City has opened a lot of new doors for me in and I’ve had so many incredible opportunities to share my talent. I’ve also worked with several non-profits including Make-A-Wish, Girls Inc, and Children’s Miracle Network where I teach dance and have a fun time with the kids I meet. Recently, I found a new love for designing and started my own dance-wear line and hope to take off with my new brand, which is still in the works. In addition to ballet, I study tap dance, contemporary, hip-hop, musical theatre, voice, and acting, when my schedule permits.
The most challenging time throughout womanhood was when I was around 17 years old in high school. I think a lot of people didn’t take me seriously and I also didn’t take myself seriously at times. I believe it came from my lack of confidence, which was holding me back from just going after what I wanted for myself. I was still pretty shy and was always scared of being judged, others peoples opinions of me, and I spent a lot of time comparing myself to others. I had braces for a majority of my time in high school and I hated my curly hair and would straighten it every day, thinking it would help me fit in. I have learned to embrace what makes me, me, and my differences have become my strengths. What made me different, made me stand out, and every day I love myself more and more.
To BE YOUR OWN Woman represents a strong, confident woman who comfortable in her own skin and isn’t afraid to stand up for herself. Especially today, in this generation with social media and constantly feeling the need to compare ourselves to what we see online, people tend to think they have to change themselves to fit a certain mould. It is so important to accept yourself for being who you are, do what makes you feel best, and BE YOUR OWN Woman.