Stephanie Kurlow dreamt of becoming a ballerina ever since she was a little girl but when her family converted to Islam in 2010, she stopped dancing due to the difficulty of finding a dance school that would accept her wearing a hijab.
“There are no facilitations or services targeted at Muslim girls,”said the teenager from Sydney. “In this day and age there is a lack of facilitations for youth who are disengaged or of a different religion or race.”
Whenever people ask me why I love dance so much, I always give them the usual reply- that it's my passion. I've only recently really realised why I truly love it. Because it's a part of me. Because without it, I would be lost. Pursue what you love and you will forever be happy#ballet #balletbeautifulgirls #loveofballet #balletpost #balletclub @world.of.ballerinas #aspiringballerinas1 #worldballetproject @dreamdancer840 @boysofballet
Just as Kurlow had all but given up on her dream, she became inspired by women of colour around the word who were succeeding in their fields despite huge obstacles and prejudice.
“So many inspiring changes are happening to the world,” she said. “Like one of the first female African-American ballerinas- Michaela De Prince and Misty Copeland, the first Hijabi Emirati lifter Amna Al Haddad and the first Hijabi news anchor on American television Noor Tagouri - that have motivated me to pursue my passion against the odds of the world.”
Kurlow launched a fundraising campaign on LaunchGood in order to pay for a year’s tuition at a professional ballet school, with the hopes of defying negative stereotypes about Muslim women and inspiring more women from ethnic and religious minorities to pursue their dreams.
“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,” she explained. “I want to encourage everyone to join together no matter what faith, race or colour. To bring harmony and a world of acceptance for future generations. YOU can help me achieve this dream.”
With a professional diploma in hand, Kurlow aims to open her own performing arts school and give back to communities that are often ignored and marginalised in Australia.
“This school will have special programs for specific religions, support groups for our youth and people who are from disconnected communities,” she said. “I will provide for our future generations a chance to express and heal themselves and others through the magnificent art of performing and creativity.”