Lessons in Cool: Prima Ballerina Nikisha Fogo

  • Written By:Alexandra Perron, Managing Editor
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Photo by Younsik Kim

Welcome to Lessons In Cool, a new series all about the people we’re constantly inspired by. They are tastemakers, curators of style, thought leaders, and well, just cool.

Ballerina Nikisha Fogo has been dancing since childhood. “I have always loved moving to express myself,” says Nikisha. “Both my parents were dancers. They owned a dance school, and I was often in the studio watching their classes. I would be so fascinated, and it looked like so much fun! I would memorize the choreography that the students learned, and when we got home, I would show my parents the full choreography!”

With a goal of becoming a prima ballerina, she attended the Royal Swedish Ballet School at 10 years old and continued to train until she got her first professional contract at the Vienna State Opera Ballet when she was 18 years old. She went on to be promoted to Principal Dancer (and the first Black Principal Dancer with the company) seven years later and now she’s the Principal Dancer at the San Francisco Ballet. “Here I am 17 years later, in the position I dreamt of as a child! I get to do what I love and am passionate about every day for a living.” We caught up with the dancer to hear more about her background, where she looks for inspiration, and her must-have beauty products.

Dance always made me so happy. I am in a whole other universe when I am dancing.

- Nikisha Fogo

Name and Occupation:

Nikisha Fogo, Principal Dancer at the San Francisco Ballet

First thing you do in the morning:

Check my messages or FaceTime my sister or mum

Biggest challenge?

When I was only 16 years old, I moved from Stockholm to London to attend the prestigious Royal Ballet School. Moving away from home at such a young age forced me to grow up very fast. I had so many new responsibilities, like making my food, doing laundry, managing a budget, etc. I was constantly missing my family (which I certainly still do), but I learned a lot about myself in the process! There is nothing I cannot do now because of this life experience.

Biggest inspiration?

My biggest inspiration is my younger sister, Shenie Fogo. She is such a creative, ambitious, and independent human. Shenie is releasing her debut album, where she has written all of the songs and has also been responsible for its creative content. I am so proud of her, and she has proven to me that anything is possible.

I have been extremely fortunate to have been exposed to many inspiring artists throughout my schooling and professional career. I love taking inspiration from others and interpreting what I see into my work. A dancer who has inspired me throughout my academic and professional life is Marianela Nuñez, Prima Ballerina with the Royal Ballet. I love how you can see her hard work in a beautiful, effortless way! And, she is a lovely person too!

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Photo by Ashley Taylor

Last person you texted:

My sister, Shenie

Most scrolled app or site:

Instagram

Beauty routine — what are the five products you cannot live without:

Your style icon?

Rihanna! She is just iconic!

Your go-to:

  • Breakfast: Smoothie with banana, blueberries, oat milk, and cardamom
  • Lunch: Avocado and mozzarella sandwich
  • Dinner: TikTok Pasta
  • Cocktail: Pornstar Martini
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Photo by Karin Schulz

Different is beautiful! Embrace it, and do not be afraid to stand up for yourself.

Advice you would give your younger self:

Different is beautiful! Embrace it, and do not be afraid to stand up for yourself.

What does “Cool” mean to you?

To be cool is to be authentic to yourself! "Cool" to me is when someone is 100% themself and does not care what others think of them! Carefree!

For more from Nikisha, follower her on Instagram at @nikishafogo.

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