March 2023 Dance/Ballet/Skating
D h a r m a B r o w n
Competition Dancer, Actress, & Figure Skater
Editor: LDL Magazine
Interview conducted by:
Dharma Brown and Dharma’s manager (Dharma’s mom)
Many of us grew up waiting for holiday time to view nostalgic moments. Watching Christmas lights and sipping on hot chocolate got us in the mood for December. We would even watch ice skaters swirling and twirling on the ice. Our stardom came from watching music videos so we could learn the cool dance moves that we saw on the screen. While these memories bring joy, they also remind us of the innate talent that we’ve had within our younger lives. These innate talents spark a light within us when we read the journey of people who are pursuing their dreams.
Dharma Brown ignited her talent at the age of seven years old. Dharma loved going ice skating at places like the holiday ice skating rink at the Staples Center, the skating rink at Santa’s Village near Big Bear, and the holiday ice rink in Santa Monica. When Covid began, mom (Dharma’s manager) noticed that there were more outdoor skating events for Dharma to practice her skating skills. Mom enrolled Dharma in the outdoor ice skating rink at Toyota Sports Performance Center (TSPC) in El Segundo. Two years later, Dharma is still figure skating and enrolled in the LTS program at TSPC.
While Dharma is a young girl of many talents, her first passion is definitely dance. Dharma has had a passion for dance since she was four years old. Some amazing places that Dharma has trained in dance include: RAGE Entertainment in the valley, Debbie Allen Dance Academy, Marat Daukayev School of Ballet, and her current home studio, and The Hype Dance Complex in Arlington Heights. Dharma has taken dance classes throughout Los Angeles, and this is only the beginning of her dance journey!
Dharma’s biggest support system has definitely been her mom-manager. Dharma expressed how much her mom has supported her throughout her career: “My mom has been very supportive. Um, she goes along with mainly everything I do. Um, let's say I wanna do something crazy or something that’s so like…I don’t know how to explain it…but like something that’s really like weird and cool to do, she would just be like okay sure I’ll do it as long as you like as long as its safe and she just like goes along with everything and she’s just really like supportive of me”.
“My mom has been very supportive. Um, she goes along with mainly everything I do. Um, let's say I wanna do something crazy or something that’s so like…I don’t know how to explain it…but like something that’s really like weird and cool to do, she would just be like okay sure I’ll do it as long as you like as long as its safe and she just like goes along with everything and she’s just really like supportive of me”.
Mom definitely shares Dharma’s passion and said, “I believe children are born with their passion inside of them and that as parents our goal is to help them discover that passion as they grow up. So whenever Dharma says she wants to try something new, I support it because I believe trying new things is part of her journey to discovering her life passion. That said, she’s shown me that dance is her first love. She’s enthusiastic about it and she’s learned to use it as a means of creative expression as well as a stress reliever. Dance has helped Dharma build a strong work ethic, helped her manage her emotions, and made her confident in her ability to achieve big things”.
While Dharma is still figuring out her skating style, mom assures it will be identical to Dharma’s dance style. To be a dancer and skater takes talent, but it also takes a personality to fit the gift. Dharma is laid back with a low-key personality. However, when it is time to turn up when her muse kicks in the moment! Dharma is perfectionist with a strong work ethic. Jazz is Dharma’s favorite primary dance style, and it’s also the style of her competitive routine this season. Jazz definitely fits Dharma’s fun and sassy personality! If this hasn’t sparked the inner child in you yet, then read ahead for more. Dharma is trained in ballet, pointe, contemporary, modern, jazz, street jazz, and hip hop. She also tumbles and does aerial work.
Dharma is an actress who has appeared in several television shows. Television shows that Dharma appeared in include: Abbott Elementary, Home Economics, Dr. Detox, Jane the Virgin, Secret Life of Kids, and Craig of the Creek. She has appeared in the film “Six Underground. Music videos that Dharma has appeared in includes: Beyonce’s “Spirit”, Nick Grant’s “Black Woman”, and Alex Feder’s “Love You the Maximum”. There is definitely more to Dharma’s acting skills! Dharma has appeared in the Nike, Gymboree, and Toaster Strudel commercials.
Dance and ice skating might be two talents of Dharma’s, but she also enjoys other hobbies. In order of preference she likes:
2. Musical Theater
3. TV/Film Acting
4. Aerial Work
5. Sketching (Art)
6. Figure Skating
8. Singing (she has a great voice)
Being a rising talent is sure to come with some challenges, but it does not deter dreams. Dharma is preparing to train for the intermediate level of competition for skating. However, Dharma is not sure how far she wants to go with figure skating because dancing consumes her time. Mom said Dharma is a competitive dancer which means she trains in dance 10-15 hours a week on top of competitions. This time commitment makes it challenging to pursue figure skating full-time.
Even though dance is Dharma’s first passion, it does come with some challenges perfecting her craft. Mom said that Dharma is still learning how to be more flexible with her dance style. Even though Dharma has “Amazon-Super-Woman” like strength, she has to learn how to navigate being flexible when dancing. Dharma is still learning how to strengthen her middle split and back split (aka, needle). Once Dharma is able to conquer these challenges, then she will be able to reach a more advanced level dance for her age.
Dharma is SAG and has 2 agents: MSA for dance and A3 (fka, Abrams). She also has a manager, L’il Angles Unlimited Talent. Dharma’s last acting role was on Abbott Elementary. Mom mentioned that she is still looking for a less expensive option for acting training. Dharma is a rising actress with a great team that will help her secure future acting roles.
Even though Dharma is an inspiration to us, she is also inspired by others. Dharma let LDL Magazine know who are some dancers, ice skaters, and actresses that inspire her. Dharma said, “My favorite dancers…the first one is Misty Copeland. I love her work ethic. She's amazing. She’s a great dancer. She’s very hard-working and has a lot of drive. I also like Phil Wright as a dancer cuz he’s really nice and funny…like at one of my dance conventions he called us [juniors] the “chicken tenders” He's really nice and he gets the concept of acting and commercial work and he can do so much and he’s just amazing. Acting? I like Ava Colker who played in Sydney to the Max. I’ve seen her in a lot of shows that I watch, like Creeped Out. And her acting is really good. I also like Letitia Wright who plays Shuri in Black Panther”.
Dharma is a real life dream come to life. Dharma’s determination, motivation, and passion will definitely encourage others to pursue their dreams. Dharma leaves us with some words of advice, “ Mainly I would say do not give up. Like, you have to have a really strong work ethic and you can’t, like, you can’t give up in the middle of, like, dancing. If you’re tired you can’t just say “oh I’m so tired now I don’t want to do this anymore” like, you have to like believe in yourself that you can do it and take your mind off of like, if you’re sore or if you’re tired or if you like just like don’t really want to do this, you have to take your mind off of that and actually like just go for it”.
“ Mainly I would say do not give up. Like, you have to have a really strong work ethic and you can’t, like, you can’t give up in the middle of, like, dancing. If you’re tired you can’t just say “oh I’m so tired now I don’t want to do this anymore” like, you have to like believe in yourself that you can do it and take your mind off of like, if you’re sore or if you’re tired or if you like just like don’t really want to do this, you have to take your mind off of that and actually like just go for it”.
D e s t i n y W i m p y e
Ballet with Passion
Hello Destiny, when did your passion for ballet begin?
My passion for ballet began at age 13! Previously, I trained in multiple different styles growing up such as Modern, Jazz, Tap, and Hip-Hop. I started taking ballet more seriously, and fell in love with the technique as I got older.
Can you describe how you integrate your personal style and fashion into your ballet performances?
I think that every dancer is unique and different. No two artists are the same. I think that by me showing up every day as a black woman in this art form is very special. I believe that embracing who you really are can truly inspire others to do the same.
"I think that every dancer is unique and different. No two artists are the same. I think that by me showing up every day as a black woman in this art form is very special. I believe that embracing who you really are can truly inspire others to do the same".
Who are some ballerinas that inspire you?
Some ballerinas that inspire me are artists like Lauren Anderson, Ingrid Silva, Tiler Peck, and Noelani Pantastico.
What are some places where you've been able to perform?
I’ve been so fortunate in my life to perform in many different theaters and stages! I have performed at The White House under the Obama Administration, The Kennedy Center, and I’ve also been able to dance on tv shows and commercials.
Do you have a favorite show you performed at?
I think my all time favorite performances have been the ones I’ve done in Seattle with the ballet company I am a part of.
Have there been any challenges you faced throughout your journey of pursuing your dream?
There have been many challenges throughout my journey and there still are. I believe that the challenges and struggles we go through make us stronger. I have definitely experienced hardships with my mental health and how I view myself within the ballet world. I’m glad to say I am on the other side of those struggles and it feels great!
How important is diversity and representation to you within ballet?
Diversity and representation are extremely important to me within every form of art. It’s important to see people who look like you doing things you would want to do. It’s hard to envision yourself as a black ballerina if you have never seen one before.
"Diversity and representation are extremely important to me within every form of art. It’s important to see people who look like you doing things you would want to do. It’s hard to envision yourself as a black ballerina if you have never seen one before".
How is ballet different from other forms of dance and movement?
I think that ballet is just as unique as any other form of dance. Personally, the difference is not necessarily the movement, but more so how it makes me feel. Ballet was always a style I struggled with growing up. Other styles came very naturally for me. I love the challenge that ballet brings me every single day.
Outside of ballet, what are some other hobbies that you enjoy?
I love spending time with my family because I don't get to see them very often. I enjoy doing makeup as well, whether it’s for shows or just for fun! I also love walking my puppy Chip and enjoying his energetic personality.
What are some words of advice you can give to future ballerinas?
The best words of advice I can give is to be yourself and do what you love to do. Don’t compare your journey or success to anyone else's. What’s for you is for you!
Photos by: Dan Lao Photography