This teenage ballerina hopes to bring people together through dance and empower other young athletes who are afraid to push boundaries because of their faith and/or appearance.
If, at first, you don’t succeed, try, try again. This advice is applicable to the young and old and is certainly what helped teenage ballerina Stephanie Kurlow fulfill her dream of becoming a ballerina – despite being untraditional and donning a hijab.
The 14-year-old first fell in love with dancing at the age of 2 when she put on her first tutu. At age 9, however, she and her family converted to Islam and she feared her dream of becoming a ballerina could never coincide with her religious beliefs. After all, ballerinas have a very strict dress code.
Fortunately, her hijab has not set her back, but only made her stronger as she’s pushed the boundaries of conventional dress in the world of ballet. The photos below, taken at a dance studio in Sydney, Australia, perfectly display how the young athlete has managed to combine her faith and talent.
Of course, Kurlow and her family faced plenty of obstacles in ensuring the young dancer could acquire adequate training. According to The Huffington Post, the athlete couldn’t find a ballet class that would allow her to wear the garment while training. For this reason, she launched a crowdfunding campaign to raise money for private tutoring that would provide her with the instruction needed to be a great dancer. 700 people helped her raise over $7,000.
The reason these photos are so magnanimous is that they starkly differ from the ballet images which often populate ballet reviews and social media feeds. In a blue tutu and matching hijab, she offers a more accepting and inclusive idea of what the future of dancing may hold.
Thanks to heroes like Misty Copeland and hijabi Emirati lifter Amna Al Haddad, Kurlow has found the courage to become the first hijab-wearing ballerina. One day, she hopes to open her own dance facility specifically geared toward diverse youth. She says,
“This school will have special programs for specific religions, support groups for our youth and people who are from disconnected communities. I will provide for our future generations a chance to express and heal themselves and others through the magnificent art of performing and creativity.”
Following are some incredible photos of the inspiring activist:
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