From Dancer to Entrepreneur -- Black-Owned Ballet Studio Celebrates 17 Years in Business

Sylvia Boaz, founder of Balletiquette San Diego Academy of Fitness and Dance
Sylvia Boaz, founder of Balletiquette San Diego Academy of Fitness and Dance

"That’s what I want to be when I grow up," said a young Sylvia Boaz after seeing a performance at the Dance Theater of Harlem with her mother. It seemed like only a dream for a young black girl who was a varsity cheerleader at Howard University in Washington, DC. But it was her dream, and she was determined to make it come true. Not only did she become a dancer, for the past 17 years she has also owned her own ballet studio.

Starting from the bottom

Boaz demonstrated what determination and hard work can accomplish. She was already 21 when she was accepted into the Dance Theater of Harlem, the first African American classical ballet company. But she trained with the best and showed that blacks can indeed dance ballet.

She eventually left New York and returned to Washington, D.C. where she hoped to make a difference and pave the way for blacks to become part of white ballet companies, but it didn't happen quite as she had planned. She found a tough road ahead of her and ended up putting her dance career on hold as she entered the Navy in the field of aviation in order to support her son.

From dancer to entrepreneur

It was in San Diego where she was living that her love of dance began to call her again. After retiring from the Navy, she was finally able to make her dream come true. In 1999, she opened her very own studio called Balletiquette San Diego Academy of Fitness and Dance, and guided by the belief that Pilates is a strong compliment to the roots of ballet, she expanded, and added a Pilates Studio as well as another small dance studio in 2008.

Her core business mission is to offer a variety of dance styles to a clientele diverse in age and culture, and obviously it's worked because this year she is celebrating her 17th year in business!

Giving back

Boaz says not only does she have the opportunity to do what she loves, but she is able to help others. She once told a local newspaper, “There’s been a myth of blacks not being able to do ballet because of their body structure," but Boaz proved that it was only a myth. She is happy to share her knowledge and experience with others, and very proud that her daughter is also a dancer and co-owner of her ballet studio.

For more information about Sylvia Boaz and/or her dance studio, visit
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