Our latest interview is with Stephanie Kurlow who made headlines in her quest to become the first hijabi ballerina in the world. We asked Stephanie to tell us a bit about herself and her love for ballet.
Stephanie Kurlow is 16yrs old and started dancing when she was 2yrs old, stopped when she was 8 and started again 4yrs ago. In 2016 Stephanie started full time ballet.
- In 3 words what does dance mean to you?
Passion, Love, Everything
- Favourite ballet to dance?
Sleeping Beauty and In The Middle Somewhat Elevated
- From your personal experience do you feel that ballet is accessible to most people?
Ballet is a very time consuming and expensive activity unfortunately. In my personal experience, taking a ballet class for fun every now and then is accessible to a lot of people but to pursue it professionally is very difficult physically, mentally and financially that only some people are able to.
- If you could change one thing about this art form what would it be?
Less seriousness and focus on technicality. Ballet is an ART form, which means people want to watch a ballet to escape and to feel something. The audience doesn't care how high your leg gets or how good your feet are. I think we need to shift our focus back onto the artistic side of ballet, which I personally think is more important.
- If you could give some advice to yourself what would it be?
Well, Im still learning but if I could give advice to myself a few years ago I'd tell myself to not worry. To stop comparing myself negatively to others and try and focus on improving myself.
- What is a typical misconception about ballet that you would like to set straight?
That its easy. Ballet is the hardest thing in the world. Not only do we need to have the physical and technical facility to perform but we have to make it look effortless and transport the audience into a story. Ballet dancers rehearse from morning till late afternoon, then they perform until 10pm, go to bed at midnight and repeat the cycle all over again. Ballet isn't a 9-5 job where you can separate life and work. Ballet is a lifestyle, the way you eat, sleep, exercise and think has to all relate to ballet to be a great dancer.
- What are you reading?
Currently rereading Jodi Picoults book Handling with Care. She is my absolute favourite author and I've almost read all of her books!
- What inspires you to work harder everyday?
What inspires me are those little moments you have in class, when a turn feels effortless or an extension is higher than ever or when something suddenly just clicks. I live for those moments when something you've been working so hard for for so long suddenly works, its like a lightbulb switches on.
- Ballet without Borders aims to allow children from disadvantaged backgrounds to experience ballet- if you had ultimate power for a day what would you do to make this happen?
I would make ballet free for the day and have amazing ballet studios pop up in every community with incredible teachers. I believe ballet is something everyone should try no matter what age, race, religion or background they are because it gives you so much.
You can follow Stephanie’s journey below via her social media accounts:
Photographer- Aditya Wicaksono