In a community like Lockland, where 47% of children live in poverty and 86% of students qualify for free and reduced school lunch, ballet lessons are a luxury most cannot afford. But Reading-Lockland Presbyterian Church (RLPC) and City Gospel Mission are letting little girls dream about becoming ballerinas through the Princesses Ballet program.
For the past three years, girls of all ages have attended weekly dance classes at RLPC during the school year. The City Gospel Mission program focuses on success for each girl while building character, self-esteem, discipline, and a love of dance. Princesses Ballet runs classes at 14 sites in Greater Cincinnati.
“The girls come here right after school,” said the Reverend Dawne Sarchet, pastor of RLPC. “They have a snack, spend some time playing, have dance class, and then dinner.”
Today, dance instructor Gordon Havens is talking to the girls about their upcoming recital. He speaks about not letting your teammates down, remembering your technique, and keeping a smile on your face.
Rev. Dawne looks beyond technique. “I want the girls to feel their inner beauty and then dance out of that feeling,” she said. “I tell the girls that it’s not just about the ballet techniques. If you feel your inner beauty, you will dance beautifully.”
Rev. Dawne sees how Princesses Ballet changes the dancers. Last year, she says, one little girl would just sit on floor and cry during class. She was very shy and lacked self-esteem. By the end of the program, she danced in front of hundreds of people. “I could see the joy on her face,” said Rev. Dawne.
After ballet, the girls and their parents are invited to share a healthy meal provided by La Soupe. When they leave RLPC, their bodies have been nourished by the food, and their souls have been nourished by the dancing.
To see a short video about the impact of Princesses Ballet, click here.