From Peru to South Africa: ballet classes are changing lives

More than just an after school activity. (Image supplied by Le Danze Dance School in Klerksdorp, North West Province)
More than just an after school activity. (Image supplied by Le Danze Dance School in Klerksdorp, North West Province)

It's only when we see an image taken out of its usual context that we realise just how conditioned we are. 

Seeing little girls perfecting their plié in pretty pink tutus against a backdrop of extreme poverty is one such image, far removed from the opulence and privilege we're so used to associating the sport with. 

You may have seen this BuzzFeed video floating around your social media feed:

It features former professional ballerina Maria Del Carmen Silva teaching young Peruvian girls her passion. Maria, who has danced for the National Ballet of Peru, says she wants to "change lives through dance," offering free classes to young girls who would otherwise not be able to afford them.

The cost of costumes, ballet slippers and excursions are also covered by the Peruvian ballerina who believes that the discipline the sport instils can be invaluable to those often excluded from partaking. 

Also see: What do extramurals cost in SA in 2019? 

Has your child's life changed for the better because of an extramural activity? Share your story with us, and we could publish your mail. 

Ballet in Mzansi

We spoke with Laney Olivier of Le Danze Dance School in Klerksdorp, North West Province who admits that ballet has always been known as an "elite sport," however, Le Danze's mission is to make the sport accessible to all children, offering classes at a much lower rate. 

And while not free, their classes are made up of girls and boys from all around the city, affluent and township areas alike, some travelling as far as 25km to attend. 

And their reason is not unlike Maria's. 

"It's an endless field of education outside the classroom.... ballet is wonderful for children," Laney told Parent24, explaining that "within ballet, you get taught music ability, social interaction, performance, discipline" and because of this, ballet students are normally the ones who do really well academically. 

In the Western Cape, Dance for All (DFA) offers free dance classes to township youth, from ballet and contemporary to hip hop, African and Spanish. 

For the DFA, dance offers kids "... life skills, supports their personal development and opens up career possibilities." 

Also see: Should you be saving for extramurals for your kids?

Access to extra murals 

Recognising the undeniable value an extramural can add to a child's life, the Department of Cultural Affairs & Sport in the Western Cape has implemented its After School Game Changer programme at two Cape-based schools - Silikamva High School and Hout Bay High School - where after-school activities were previously non-existent.

The programme is carried out with the help of local NGOs, and includes "30 different sport, culture, academic and life skills programmes." 

Commenting on the impact the programme has had on his life, Silikamva High School learner and Kronendal Music Academy jazz band member Kamva Thipha said, "Music is who I am, when I am out there performing, it’s like I am nothing else. No one in my family has ever gone overseas before.”

“My relationship with them is very close, they are like my family. I can trust other people now, I can trust that they will be there for me when I need them and they give me hope," said Renecia Dama of Hout Bay High. 

For her, dance has improved her confidence in relating to others and has even provided her with an opportunity to earn a part-time salary as a dance instructor with NGO, Amoyo Performing Arts Foundation. 

According to the department, the After School Game Changer programme has drastically improved school attendance at both Silikamva High and Hout Bay, and if the 187% increase in school attendance is anything to go by, hopefully, we'll be seeing funding for after-school programmes expanding countrywide. 

Chat back:

Has your child's life changed for the better because of an extramural activity? Share your story with us, and we could publish your mail. 

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