Meet Stephanie Kurlow, the girl who, at just 14 years old, already knows what her passion in life is: ballet. And while the profession is gruelling hard work and physically taxing, for Kurlow the challenge is even greater, because not only does she have dreams of becoming a ballet dancer, but she also wants to become the world’s first hijabi ballet dancer.
According to The Sydney Morning Herald, Kurlow has been dancing since she was age 2, but after converting to Islam in 2010, she thought her dreams may have to be put on hold because she struggled to find schools that would accept her religious beliefs and her dance training requirements.
“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,” Kurlow 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.”
However, after being inspired by strong Muslim women like news anchor Noor Tagouri, Emirati weightlifter Amna Al Haddad and first African-American principal dancer Misty Copeland, she decided to take matters into her own hands and has created a crowdsourcing campaign on LaunchGood.
“In this day and age there is a lack of facilitation for youth who are disengaged or of a different religion or race,” she writes. “I plan on bringing the world together by becoming the very first Muslim Ballerina so that I can inspire so many other people to believe in themselves and pursue their dreams. My dream is to train in a Full Time Ballet School catered for aspiring young girls who want to train 30-45 hours a week so they can become a professional ballerina.”
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Already backed by 561 supporters, Kurlow has managed to raise $3,113 AUD of her $10,000 goal, and is that much closer to making her dreams a reality. The funds will go toward “Ballet and Tuturing [sic] Tuition, Ballet Supplies (dance wear, dance shoes, dance essentials etc) and Ballet Competitions.”
If you want to find out more about Kurlow, her current achievements and how you can help, you can visit her crowdsourcing initiative here.