Promise with a Pirouette
Dare to be brave enough, to have the courage to do more – every small step is the beginning of something new and a positive influence for a better future.
Today we are very pleased to introduce you to 2 outstanding people who have been inspired by Winspiration and who are making a wonderful difference: Thank you to Pastor Davids from Nigeria and Josephine Woodberry from Australia for making this story happen and for Winspiring us!
Pastor Davids from Nigeria and Josephine Woodberry from Australia have joined together to help with the following project
Pastor Dennis Davids hosted our Winspiration celebration on May 7th in Nigeria.
‘The evening of WinspirationDay was also my wife’s 40th birthday celebration, and a young girl named Perla did a ballet dance routine for us to honor my wife’s birthday.’
Pastor Davids filmed Perla’s dancing routine and later in the evening, Perla told her story. She was a dancer but financial circumstances didn’t allow for her to live her dream. Life got in the way.
Pastor Davids was really inspired by Perla’s story and decided to find a way to support her. This ‘little’ step or decision was enough to shift the whole situation, to make an impact on the future of this young girl.
Promise with a Pirouette. A Future for Perla
‘I love ballet dancing … My dream is to be a professional ballet dancer and teacher. My dream is to attend a professional ballet school …’ – Perla Anthony
My name is Josephine Woodberry, I’m a ballet teacher in Melbourne, Australia. These words above were part of a letter I received in May 2016 from sixteen-year-old Perla, who lives in Nigeria. Her only encounter with ballet was three years ago, watching Barbie cartoons at a friend’s house.
Unfortunately, there are no ballet schools in Nigeria. Ever since she saw these Barbie cartoons though, Perla has been making up her own ‘ballet’, based on what she saw that day. I believe she has a natural gift – she was literally born to dance and not much will stop her!
The next part of her letter explains why Perla has had to put her dreams away.
‘I come from a family of six children and I am the fourth child. Things became really bad for my family over the past four years. My dad lost his business due to a bad economy and sold his house to pay bank off loans and other debts. There is no social support system in Nigeria.’
I learnt that while Perla has completed her primary education and begun secondary studies, she had to drop out last year, because her parents couldn’t pay her school fees and examination fees anymore – school is not free in Nigeria. This means ballet lessons are beyond – way beyond – Perla’s family’s reach.
I received Perla’s letter through Pastor Davids, a local church minister Perla’s family has known since 2010.
He contacted me because, aside from my Melbourne ballet studio which has been running for two decades, I recently started an Online Ballet Studio to help children who live in isolated communities enjoy the magic and beauty of dance. As a country kid myself, I know first-hand the transformative power of dance.
When Pastor Davids found my website and asked if I could do anything for Perla, I couldn’t ignore him. I set up free access to the program instantly and sent Perla a pair of ballet shoes. A mum at my ballet school donated a tablet for Perla so she could watch the lessons.
Perla’s first practice session lasted for three hours as she intensely scrutinized every detail. Here is some footage of Perla’s impromptu dancing, taken by Pastor Davids. Perla has not had any lessons outside of the Online Ballet Studio.
Since our first contact, my studio has undertaken to send
Pastor David regular lessons for Perla. Every month we send the latest filmed lesson so she can dance along with us. Within 6 weeks, my dance contacts and I here in Australia raised the money needed for Perla to complete her final school year. My hope now is to afford further training for Perla to become a dance teacher for her community. Dance has changed my life and I know it will keep changing the lives of many other children around the world. Pastor David’s daughter has befriended Perla and they enjoy doing the lessons together. Pastor David then sends little clips of the girls dancing to me for feedback and correction.
He wrote to me: ‘Perla came to my house yesterday for the first practice session that lasted for three hours. I am just trying to express my findings; she loves to dance. She will watch and practice and watch and practice. One interesting thing is the effect that Perla’s story is having on my eleven-year-old daughter. We were living in South Africa from 2005 till 2010 and then moved back to Nigeria in May 2010. In South Africa my daughter was 5 years old and was already in love with ballet dancing and attending ballet classes.
As we moved back to Nigeria, things were not and are not the same here; my daughter’s joy was short-lived; no more ballet. Once in a while she would put on her stuff and do some dancing on her own but her dream seemed to be dying.
As Perla started her lessons, she could not wait to pick up her ballet stuff again and got attached to Perla; in fact they watch the videos and train together now. Perla and my daughter were training together on Monday. They have started bonding. I cannot tell you enough what positive change you are bringing. As a father I cry when I see dreams and talents die.’
Other local children saw what was happening and expressed a lot of interest. Pastor Davids and his wife set up classes in their church, the online lessons projected onto a screen for everyone to follow along with. Eight children came for the first lesson, 15 the next and 23 for the third lesson!
This story is continuing to surprise us all. There is a popular song here in Australia, ‘From Little Things Big Things Grow.’ I love it! – Josephine Woodberry, Director, Brunswick School of Dance, Online Ballet Studio
Many thanks to Josephine Woodberry and Pastor Davids for this wonderful story, showing us that there are no limits in life if there are no limits.
You can make it happen and make the Winspiration movement grow through your own actions and your desire for a better future – share your story with us.