• Meet The Teen Girl Who Aims To Be The First Hijab Wearing Ballerina

    Defying traditions for her passion to dance--and future generations.
  • Meet The Teen Girl Who Aims To Be The First Hijab Wearing Ballerina
  • Photo from smh.com.au

     Do something you love and you'll never work your entire life," a famous quote goes. It might not translate to being rich, but you'll be happy at least.

    Easy to say, but really, it's not that easy to find something that you feel so passionately about, especially at a young age when one is easily swayed by peer or parent pressure. But once you do, you'll do everything you can to pursue that career.

    As a parent, you would support your child and do everything in your power to help achieve his or her dreams. That's included in the list of a parent's job details--even if it defies traditions like what this young teenage girl is trying to do.

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    Fourteen-year-old Stephanie Kurlow, from Sydney, Australia, wants to become a professional dancer. She loves ballet and would like to be the first hijab-wearing ballerina of her generation. However, her plight is not without challenges.

    Stephanie has been dancing since she was two years old. When she and her family converted to Islam in 2010, she couldn’t find a dancing school that would accept her or cater to both her needs as an aspiring professional ballet dancer and her religious beliefs. For one, many strict followers of Islam believe that dancing is "haram" or forbidden. To do what she loves to do, her mom Alsu opened a performing arts school in 2012, the Nasheed & Arts Academy in Australia, which taught ballet, martial arts, and aboriginal art classes for kids like Stephanie, where no one questions children why they dress or look a certain way.

    "I've gotten those looks or those little whispers from people saying that I can't do it, and there are some parts of the ballet world that only see me for the clothes I wear, or the beliefs I have," she told The Sydney Morning Herald. "But this means everything to me. I think I can bring people together through dance and inspire some young people from different races that might be a bit disengaged." She adds that it’s not just about ballet, but about Muslims fulfilling their dreams of who they want to be or what they want to do in life, be it an engineer, a TV presenter, or a writer.

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    Today, Stephanie is still on point in her goal to become the first professional Muslim ballerina. She had set up a LaunchGood campaign to help her raise the money she needs for a year's worth of ballet school fees. Following the footsteps of her mom, she also plans to set up a special performing arts school that caters to children and teenagers of different religions, races, or backgrounds. It will include special programs for specific religions, support groups for the youth and people from disconnected communities to help them heal and give them a chance to express themselves in whatever art form they choose sans discrimination.

    Stephanie told the NY Daily News, “I believe that one day all children and young people will have an opportunity to perform and create, without sacrificing their values, beliefs or looks, and my campaign is one step closer to achieving this.” She added that she wants people en for the clothes they wear but for the person they are and how they want to change the world.

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    Sources
    February 2, 2016. "Muslim Teen Wants To Be First Professional Ballerina In A Hijab: ‘Dancing is like flying’" (nydailynews.com)
    January 31, 2016. "One Girl's Quest To Become The First Hijabi Ballerina In The World" (smh.com.au)

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