November 26, 2021

Community News

Award-winning Black Oakland Ballerina Wins Prestigious Honor
February 23, 2021

Posted Courtesy of Wright Enterprises San Francisco~Dallas Community Spotlight~~

Media Contacts:
Heike Dempster, National YoungArts Foundation / 305.377.1140

Kler'voiəant Entertainment Management
Carolyn Evans, Publicist


OAKLAND, CA-ANGELA V. WATSON of OAKLAND, CA from LAUREL SPRINGS SCHOOL GIFTED EDUCAITON ACADEMY (formerly a student at OAKLAND SCHOOL FOR THE ARTS SCHOOL OF DANCE chaired by Reginald Ray Savage and currently training with SAN FRANCISCO BALLET SCHOOL under the direction of Patrick Armand SAN FRANCISCO BALLET SCHOOL Director and Helgi Tomasson Artistic Director of SAN FRANCISCO BALLET COMPANY and SAN FRANCISCO BALLET SCHOOL, one of the world's best ballet companies, has received a 2021 NATIONAL YOUNGARTS FOUNDATION (YoungArts) award in Ballet.  WATSON has been recognized at the Merit level, the organization's third highest honor, for her caliber of artistic achievement and joins 659 of the nation's most accomplished artists in the visual, literary, and performing arts. Out of over 7,000 applicants, WATSON was selected by an esteemed discipline-specific panel of artists through a rigorous blind adjudication process. YoungArts award winners gain access to one of the most comprehensive programs for artists in the United States in which they will have opportunities for financial, creative and professional development support throughout their entire careers. A complete list of the 2021 winners, all 15–18 years old or in grades 10–12, is available online at

"YoungArts empowers artists to pursue a life in the arts beginning at the critical time when many are faced with decisions about life after high school and we are thrilled to announce this year's YoungArts award winners. This group of extraordinary artists has reminded us yet again that extraordinary artistry is ageless, and I encourage everyone to get to know these faces and names as we will be seeing them for many years to come," said Executive Director Jewel Malone. "To all of this year's winners, congratulations! This is just the start of YoungArts' commitment to supporting your careers, we look forward to working with you and supporting your artistic and professional development."

WATSON will receive a cash prize and the opportunity to learn from leading artists such as Debbie Allen, Mikhail Baryshnikov, Frank Gehry, Wynton Marsalis, Salman Rushdie and Mickalene Thomas. WATSON is now also eligible for exclusive creative and professional development support including a wide range of fellowships, residencies and awards; virtual and in-person presentation opportunities in collaboration with major venues nationwide; additional financial support; and access to YoungArts Post, a free, private digital network for YoungArts artists to connect, collaborate and learn about additional opportunities. WATSON will continue her mentorship with Dance Theatre of Harlem former Principal Dancer Karlya Shelton-Benjamine who works with WATSON as she journeys through the ranks at SF Ballet as a young emerging Black Ballet Dancer. Shelton-Benjamine is a member of MoBBallet, a curator of the memoirs of Blacks in Ballet. While

WATSON is the only OAKLAND/EAST BAY Advanced Level Black Ballet Dancer training at the Women's Pre-professional Level of San Francisco Ballet School, both the school and the company endeavor to ensure they reflect the heterogeneity of society as they move forward and acknowledge what they "can, should and will be done to demonstrate a real commitment to change." (

WATSON aspires to continue her journey up the ranks until promoted to principal dancer and doing so will garner her accolades as the first LOCAL TOWN Afro-Native American to achieve this endeavor at San Francisco Ballet.  The accomplishment that she has reached up to this point and those that will follow represent a powerful contribution to her Oakland/San Francisco Bay Area community, her alma mater OAKLAND SCHOOL FOR THE ARTS, and to SAN FRANCISCO BALLET and the history of African-Americans in the arts as she rises above an industry that systemically lacked inclusion, diversity, equity, and access. WATSON trained at OAKLAND SCHOOL FOR THE ARTS for only 4 years before being invited to transfer to the full-time year-round training program at SAN FRANCISCO BALLET on an Artistic Merit Scholarship. The 2020-2021 season marks her fifth year at SF Ballet where she is a SF Ballet DAVID PALMER STUDENT SCHOLAR. WATSON was cast in Helgi Tomasson's A Midsummer Night's Dream ballet which was slated to run for the 2020 Season but dramatically opened and closed on the same evening as COVID began its war against the world on March 6, 2020. Midsummer had not been danced by SF Ballet for over 30 years and WATSON's anticipation of being slated to dance in such an endeared full length ballet story with the Company only to be cut short was disappointing for WATSON. But her chin is up and she is looking forward to dancing in next season's 2021-2022 lineup as the world recovers from COVID19 and SAN FRANCISCO BALLET begins to return to THE WAR MEMORIAL OPERA HOUSE on-stage live performances and perhaps as a tribute to the nearly 40 years of success as Tomasson prepares to retire at the end of the 2022 Season. Tomasson's casting of WATSON to dance the principal character role of "Clara" in his Nutcracker for two consecutive seasons in 2016 and 2017 was historical as she was the first African-American to dance in the role since for nearly 2 decades. Marimba Gold-Watts was the 2nd African-American Clara who danced the role in the 90s following Angela Clark in 1975, the very first African-American to dance this leading role for San Francisco Ballet. The San Francisco Ballet's 2017 Souvenir Program Book featured WATSON on the cover and in the Story of the Nutcracker making her the first featured African-American ballet dancer on the cover of this historical and collectable Program Book. WATSON also danced "Snowflake" and "Flower" during the 2019 Nutcracker Season and she is optimistic that she will return to the stage for the 2021-2022 Season including dancing in the 2021 Nutcracker. San Francisco Ballet's 2021 Digital Season is now streaming and viewing information is available at

While we celebrate the legacy and power of African-Americans in the arts, we must also lift up the young emerging artists to continue the legacy by recognizing the hard work that is demonstrated by the sweat that drains down the shoulders of those like WATSON. As a YoungArts award winner, WATSON joins a distinguished group of accomplished artists including Daniel Arsham, Terence Blanchard, Camille A. Brown, Viola Davis, Allegra Goodman, Josh Groban, Judith Hill, Tarell Alvin McCraney, Andrew Rannells, Desmond Richardson and Hunter Schafer.

Support for the 2020-21 YoungArts season is provided by Together campaign supporters, including Campaign Chairs Sarah Arison and Thomas Wilhelm, Jay Franke and David Herro, and Michi and Charles Jigarjian and Lead Sponsors Sandra and Tony Tamer.

Additional support for National YoungArts Foundation programs is provided by Anthropologie; Batchelor Foundation; the State of Florida, Department of State, Division of Cultural Affairs and the Florida Council on Arts and Culture; Funding Arts Network; the City of Miami Beach, Cultural Affairs Program, and the Cultural Arts Council; Miami-Dade County Department of Cultural Affairs and the Cultural Affairs Council, the Miami-Dade County Mayor and Board of County Commissioners; Dr. Sidney Stern in loving memory of Florence Stern; and Bruce and Ellie Taub.


National YoungArts Foundation (YoungArts) was established in 1981 by Lin and Ted Arison. YoungArts identifies the most accomplished young artists in the visual, literary and performing arts, and provides them with creative and professional development opportunities throughout their careers.

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