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“Encouraging Ethnic Diversity by Shaping Young Ballerinas”


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School 6 students receive after-school ballet instruction


 by Amoi Holmes                                                                                                                                                                                                              November 19, 2014



















 More than two dozen grade school ballerinas received their fifth-week of ballet lessons in School 6 on Monday afternoon courtesy of the Blossom Sisters Foundation, a charitable dance organization.The girls ages 5-11 received instructions from the foundation’s co-founder Shama Elliott. Elliott’s foundation inculcates life lessons in self-discipline, fitness, and flexibility through dance.

Although the students are assuming it’s just fun and play serious lessons are being imparted, said Shatanya Shaw, another co-founder of the foundation. Shaw, who serves as art director for the foundation, said it teaches the girls self-discipline.

“The most exciting thing is that I get to perform in front of everyone,” said Crystal Coleman, a fourth-grader. “I’m definitely going to keep everything I learn in classes, like jazz, tap and ballet, so I can be a successful business woman and provide for my family.”

Coleman intuitively seems to sense the lessons the foundation is attempting to instill in her. Coleman is doing her second round in the program; she was enrolled during the foundation’s previous session last May through June.

Shaw said the program begin in earnest with just nine-students earlier in the year, but quickly it reached a level of popularity, that enrollment tripled. Now, the program has 29 students enrolled, said Shaw.

Coleman said she also enjoys interacting with her friends in the program. The school is located on Carroll Street, a volatile neighborhood where crime and disorder keeps most children like Coleman indoors less they fall prey to anti-social street elements. Coleman said the program keeps her out of trouble by providing a safe place for her and friends to interact.

“I like to volunteer and help the little ones, work on my balancing skills and learn new moves,” said fourth-grader Kamaya Young.

Young has a fondness for ballet and gymnastics in particular so much so that when lessons are not in session she is usually before a computer screen watching dance videos to learn moves on her own.

The foundation’s eight-week program will conclude next month with a performance being put on by the participants. The program dubbed the “Milestones” Ballet Outreach Program costs approximately $13,000 for an eight-month run with funding from the school district’s Department of Visual and Performing Arts. Ballet shoes for the participants was donated to the program by the Girls Scouts of America.

Shaw said the program is intended to help improve grades and discipline in the school. Coleman keeps a notebook to jot down instruction she receives to become better in the program, and she is not alone school officials are likely taking notes to see if education is furthered by extra-curricular programs like this dance program in the city’s lowest-performing school.

To donate or find more information about the program

Correction: The original article stated the cost for the program for eight weeks was $13,000, when in fact the cost is $13,000 for eight months.



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