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Ballert company encourages Black youth to pursue professional training | Lifestyle

The Chocolate Ballerina Company is hosting free dance classes for both active and inactive artists, who are interested in seeking professional training.

Chocolate Ballerina Company, a contemporary community-based dance organization, supports youth and adult artists of color in the Philadelphia region. Chanel Holland created the Chocolate Ballerina Company due to the lack of ballet culture in urban communities and performance opportunities for black artists.

“Our vision is to provide urban areas stripped of the opportunity to receive professional training and exposure to cross-studied dance forms, celebrate Black culture and allow the community to witness the unknown,” said Holland.

In-person dance lessons will resume on April 10. The company offers free dance classes, outreach programs, pop-up performances, and masterclasses, online and live at a dance studio. Holland doesn’t want to stop there, the Philadelphia native has big dreams for her hometown when it comes to her dance program.

“I hope to have Chocolate Ballerina Company dance programs in all the recreation centers in Philadelphia and outreach in-school programs in the Philadelphia School District. That’s the goal. I want to be able to have a facility where dancers can receive free training, mentoring, resume building and a safe haven,” Holland said.

Founded in 2017, the company continues to engage under-served communities through dance, with a mission to inspire and instill a sense of hope, discipline, and confidence through training and professional development.

“Good dance is introducing the variety of dance styles to society and creating a new genre that’s meaningful and memorable,” said Holland.

At the tender age of 16, she was accepted into the school of Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater. Holland also studied at Koresh, The University of the Arts, National Dance Institute NYC, and the Wissahickon Dance Academy. She is a graduate of Temple University and a lead teaching artist for BalletX’s in-school dance education program, Dance eXchange.

Holland said the benefits of dance programs like hers reach far beyond the arts, especially in the Black community.

“I truly believe that arts education programs in my community are a vital part of personal growth. My community needs to be given a choice and a chance at success. Building character and saving lives through the arts is extremely important. My community faces many traumas and it is essential to have the choice to attend Juilliard or to have the chance to see ‘Giselle’. it is imperative that my community has the same options as the rest of the world,” she said.

The company will host a free dance workshop for students ages 13 to 16 years-old on Saturday, April 10, from 4pm to 6pm at the Equilibrium Dance Academy, located at 1802 S. Broad Street, Philadelphia. Participants, who register for the free dance class, will spend an hour and a half learning a mixture of all level ballet, contemporary form and technical training.

In addition to creating dance projects and inspiring the next generation of Black ballerinas, the Chocolate Ballerina Company also focuses on fostering innovative outreach initiatives. Past Outreach Partners include Temple University Upward Bound Program, Mt.Airy Playground Recreation Center , Water Tower Recreation Center, and Franklin Learning Center.

Recently, Chocolate Ballerina Company partnered with the New Freedom Theatre in Philadelphia and are planning to live stream a pre-taped performance in June for Black Music Month.


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