First hijab ballerina, Stephanie Kurlow: 'Allow yourself to feel freedom when you express your individuality'

10:  Stephanie Kurlow. Photographed by Lisa Maree Williams
10: Stephanie Kurlow. Photographed by Lisa Maree Williams
Lisa Maree Williams

The 17-year-old started taking dance classes at the age of two, however, she stopped seven years later when her parents converted to Islam.

While Stephanie was on break from ballet, she took time to express her creativity in other forms, such as painting and creative writing. She received first prize in an international writing competition at the age of 11.

However, her newfound love didn’t compare to her love of ballet and she wanted to return to the dance-form.

Her mother struggled to find a studio that caters for her and decided to open her own ballet studio to allow her daughter to dance freely, without judgment.

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Stephanie returned to ballet when she was 12 years old and received the title of World's First Hijab Ballerina, which caught the attention of many brands, including Björn Borg.

As a result, she was awarded the Game Changer Scholarship and an invitation to attend The Royal Danish Ballet Summer School. 

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"I think people who see me for the first time in a ballet class or on stage in hijab are a bit shocked, because it's not something that they've really ever seen before. It would be so wonderful to see school and company directors being more open about the topic. I really do have a lot to offer as not only a hijab woman but as a ballet dancer," she says, speaking to Pointe about her hardships.

"You are forever evolving and developing as both an artist and a person. Allow yourself to feel freedom when you express your individuality.” 

READ MORE: Janelle Monae identifies as non-binary: 'I do feel like I am an experience, I am on self-discovery'

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