Name: Stephanie Kurlow
Pillar: Art, Music & Entertainment
What is your dream?
I want to become the first Hijabi ballerina in the world. To achieve this, I will train in a full-time ballet school and work extremely hard so that I can become a professional dancer, and ultimately open my own performing arts school and company that caters towards people of different races, religions and backgrounds.
Tell us a bit about you.
I am a Russian Australian, my mum was born in Russia and my dad in Australia. I started dancing when I was two years old and fell in love with it. Currently I am training full-time in ballet. I love writing and reading books, especially Jodi Picoult.
How have you demonstrated commitment?
I have been training for the past year in a full-time ballet school and have achieved things I never would have thought possible. In 2015 I was doing two and a half hours of ballet a week, but in 2016 I have been training 25 hours a week! It’s been a very difficult and intense journey so far, some minor injuries but I am so dedicated to my art form that I will tolerate any pain.
What challenges do you face?
I am a Muslim and therefore wear a hijab. There has never in the history of ballet been a professional dancer that wears a hijab and that’s a big challenge for me to overcome. I also face racist and threatening comments and messages online that want me to stop pursuing ballet and stop being a Muslim. But these are two parts of me that are truly important to me and make me who I am.
How will you use the money?
I will use the grant money for my full-time ballet training, so I can excel and improve my dance skills on the path to become a professional dancer. I would also use the grant money for ballet supplies, including pointe shoes and leotards.
How do you plan to give back?
I plan on giving back to my community and the world by opening a professional performing arts school once I'm a professional dancer. My school and company will cater towards people of different, religions, races and cultures to create a more inclusive and diverse group of people that can represent their race or religion in the performing arts. I want a school that is inclusive and inspiring to future generations and gives diverse people a chance to express themselves through their art form.