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My name is: Nardia Boodoo.

I’m known asA professional ballerina.

My expertise is in: Ballet.

I first knew that I wanted to spend my life in this world when: While I was in school at the Joffrey Ballet of Chicago, I had the opportunity to perform in the company production. I felt so special because, out of a class of 30, only four girls (including me) got chosen to dance in the corps of the production of Don Quixote. We rehearsed for six weeks and I had the opportunity to work directly with the director and supporting artistic staff. I was so excited for opening night! My parents flew in from Baltimore. I remember as I was bourée-ing off stage in the Dryad scene, I felt overwhelmed with emotion. My heart felt full and this felt right. I was was where I needed to be. I caught the bug.

What “physically fit” means to me is: Being able to get through a four-act ballet.

I stay physically healthy with: I am all about health. I was raised on organic and free-range produce and meat products. My father is Indian and somewhat of a Rastafarian due to his upbringing in Trinidad. He instilled in me the concept that “health is wealth.” As a ballerina, our fitness is directly related to our performance. If I am respecting my instrument (my body), I will achieve optimum performance. I take The Ritual vitamin supplement alongside Nutrafol hair, stress and liver supplements.

I often feel stressed and anxious because my plate is always so full. I am grateful for all of my opportunities, but it’s important to decompress. The DMV (the DC, Maryland and Virginia area) is chock-full of lovely trails and, when the weather permits, I bike or hike them.

I am also obsessed with clean beauty! Women of color are all trained at a young age to indulge in skin and haircare. Our hair texture and beautifully melaninated skin is precious and contributes to our unique and exotic beauty. The more natural, the better. I see a holistic organic aesthetician. Post-performance week, I go to her to detox skin and deep clean my pores. Sweating in makeup, mixed with the heat from stage lights, equals acne! I think when I am in my 70s, I’ll be grateful to my younger self for getting into clean skincare.

I take Pilates daily, I stretch every morning, I force myself to do cardio. All of this compliments my ballet technique.

I keep my emotions balanced with: When I feel stressed or need a moment to tap into my power for strength, I indulge in my bath ritual. I surround myself with my cleansed and charged crystals and meditate. I write in my journal and burn incense. I usually do some sort of assessment on myself and write down my goals. When I am not reading or doing homework for school (I’m a part-time college student), I like to read books that stimulate me intellectually.

I’m intellectually stimulated by: Right now, I am reading The New Jim Crow. The death of George Floyd really affected me as a woman color. I am a curious and analytical person. I felt that I needed to understand my country and the people that made it the way it is today. I think Americans (myself included) are at times very ignorant to what is actually going on. The New Jim Crow explains America’s racist history. It explains that Jim Crow laws never actually disappeared.

I usually like to watch documentaries that explore alternative medicine, diets and lifestyles. But lately I’ve been really intrigued by books like White Fragility, Waking Up White, The New Jim Crow, The State of Black Girls, Eloquent Rage and many other Black-written guides and novels. I am empowering myself as a woman of color.

I was recently transformed by: I am a Pisces and I love the water. I recently went to the beach for a socially distant beach week. Pre-COVID, I traveled a lot internationally for modeling and ballet. I’ve been to London, Berlin, Jamaica, Puerto Rico, Dubai and South Africa (to name a few).

The last country I visited was Berlin, Germany. I especially appreciated the Berliners’ attitude towards sustainability and their Museum Insel. My trip to South Africa was also a profound and cool experience: I went on a safari, visited Robbins Island, tasted ostrich meat, visited vineyards and explored Table Mountain and Kirtstenbosch Botanical Garden. I think South Africa may be on the top of my list. I love visiting museums and watching live performances in other countries. Art enriches our lives.

In the last six months, the ritual that has become so important for me is: I love having the time to indulge in a morning ritual. I wanted to use my time in quarantine to heal. Being a Black ballerina has its challenges, and I wanted to find my voice. Usually that means stillness and meditation. So, in the morning, after I drink lemon water, I sage and light my palo Santo. I follow along with a meditation, and I keep a journal nearby to write down anything that comes up in my mind. Afterwards, I grind some coffee beans and make a pot of coffee in my French press. Unroll my yoga mat and stretch. I make a small breakfast, walk my dog and get ready for my online ballet class (which I take in my kitchen). Afterward, it’s about 11am. I shower and dive into studying (getting my Pilates certification and college degree). I love my morning routine. I feel like it helps me to stay optimistic and encourages me to go to bed early.

Here’s how you can do it too: I asked myself what I needed to be successful and I wrote everything down. I wrote down my wants, where I wanted to be, my goals etc. I made up an “Ideal Self” schedule and then assessed what was realistic and what wasn’t. It took me a week to figure it all out, but I got there. They say it takes 30 days to create a habit; and it’s true. I’ll be a little sad when life gets more hectic and I’ll have to be less indulgent and pare it down—but I’m optimistic

It helps me live my process because: I am beautiful, worthy, determined and strong.

Cover photographs courtesy of Nardia Boodoo, all other photographs Nisian Hughes

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