Meet the First Hijab-Wearing Ballerina

February 4, 2016

This Australian 14-year-old has gotten the internet’s attention—and for good reason. A devout Muslim, Stephanie Kurlow dreams of being the first hijab-wearing professional ballet dancer, citing Misty Copeland and Michaela DePrince as her inspirations for breaking down the barriers ballet presents to those who don’t fit its exclusive mold.

And why not? Kurlow clearly has the dedication ballet requires. When she converted to Islam five years ago, her mother opened her own performing arts academy so her daughter could continue her training. And Kurlow wants to continue to provide a space where Muslim girls can train. She’s started a LaunchGood campaign to raise funds to allow her to train full-time, so that she will be qualified to teach ballet to “children and teenagers of different religions, races or backgrounds.”

Especially now, when anti-Muslim rhetoric is sadly common, this story reminds us how dance can (and should) be an example of inclusivity and diversity. And like Copeland and DePrince, or AXIS Dance Company, the physically-integrated troupe profiled in our February issue, it reminds us of how far we have to go.

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