Nia Ballerina were honoured to have the opportunity to donate some of their Nia Ballerina Music Boxes to the amazing children at First Step Ballet in McGregor, South Africa! This was really something very close to my heart because when I was first searching for a music box with a black ballerina for my own daughter and unable to find one in the UK or the USA, I thought one of the countries that might have them was South Africa. The majority of the population in South Africa is Black, and I was already aware of well known ballet companies such as; The South African Ballet Company and Joburg Ballet. However, to my disappointment the only music boxes I found available had non-Black Ballerinas so I was so pleased that the founder of First Step Ballet and Next Step Dance Academy, Mary Corpe accepted our donation because it meant that little black ballerinas in South Africa would finally be able to see themselves reflected when they opened our music boxes, and hoped this would also go on to inspire them to continue dancing!
We received a beautiful message with the above image of just some of the pupils at First Step Ballet thanking us for their gifts, which they received just before Christmas!
Mary Corpe told me "I decided to start the Ballet Classes because like so many small rural towns, it is beset with the problems of poverty, unemployment, drug and alcohol abuse and teenage pregnancy. First Step Ballet was founded in 2014 to address these problems and give the children of the community a focus in their lives. I have extensive international experience as a professional dancer/performer and have taught dance and drama for over 40 years".
Mary Corpe went on to explain "The Next Step Dance Academy, which includes youth from nearby Zolani Township, was formed to give the more talented senior children the necessary specialised training to equip them for a professional career in the performing arts or as dance teachers. Currently we have one Soloist in the Academy. Both groups have classes in Classical Ballet, Hip-Hop, Musical Theatre, Contemporary Dance and African Dance. Classes are conducted on Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Saturday".
Mary Corpe told me that her vision and mission is to "provide the children and youth of this impoverished community with creative and structured after-school activities, alleviate boredom and give the children a focus and sense of purpose in their lives", and to also "prepare talented dancers from underprivileged rural backgrounds for entry into a dance or ballet school once they have completed high school and ultimately for a career in the performing arts". Mary Corpe explained "the preparation does not only involve dancing, but also speech and drama, literature and poetry. Through dance classes and other activities, the students learn a wide range of life skills, most importantly self-discipline and self-confidence".
"The children would most definitely not have the opportunity to dance without the Ballet School. We are constantly looking of ways to raise funds in order to keep the projects going. The ballet mums get involved with fundraising they are very supportive. My passion are children and dance, so for my whole life, I have woken up everyday doing what I love. How lucky am I!"
I am so pleased that ballet schools like Next Step Ballet exists to give all young aspiring ballerinas real life changing opportunities, and who knows one of these ballerinas could be the next Kitty Phetla!
(Image above is of Kitty Phetla, Senior Soloist)
The Ballet School is self-funded and relies on private and government funding. Your donation, whatever the size can make a massive difference to these children whether it be small or large, your support is most welcome. The children are always in need of ballet shoes, leotards, costumes and transport for excursions etc. so your support is needed. If you would like to find out more about Next Step Ballet please visit their website www.firststepballetmcgregor.co.za
If you would like to make a Donation, please click below!