We are so proud to award our November 2023 grant to Ballet Explorers. We chose Ballet Explorers for their commitment to extending this art form to minority children. Congratulations!
In their words, “My community project started in fulfillment of my duty as a Phillips Scholar to develop a program that addresses a need in my community. Ballet has been historically accessible primarily for people in positions of privilege and has many barriers to inclusivity. My program will tackle some barriers, making accessing dance education easier for children from minoritized communities. Ballet Scholars is a free bilingual introductory session of 3 classes for children ages 6-10. Through a partnership with St. Paul Ballet and Grand Jete, Ballet Scholars has secured a space for dance and completely free dancewear. Additionally, the program counts with transportation accommodations if the participants need them.
“Pink tights and shoes are synonymous with ballet, reflecting its European aristocratic roots. This tradition catered to white dancers, using pink to visually elongate lines as pink matches their skin tone. However, Grand Jeté is changing the narrative, providing diverse skin-tone options for tights and shoes and making ballet more inclusive. Moreover, ballet's deeply gendered nature is starkly evident in its attire, which poses challenges to inclusivity among non-binary and transgender individuals. The traditional binary division of ballet costumes into male and female designs reinforces a limited and outdated perspective on gender. To foster a more inclusive environment, participants are given three distinct attire choices to ensure they can choose one that reflects their identity.
“Ballet Explorers enriches kids' dance education by inviting local artists to conduct workshops introducing diverse dance styles. These workshops follow ballet lessons. Additionally, Ballet Explorers enhances the learning environment with live piano accompanists, fostering an immersive dance journey for explorers for children. It also provided kids with snacks and water to enjoy during a break that allows them to share stories through food and socialize with others.”
Funded by St. Paul, MN (November 2023)