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Eleven students had the opportunity to learn ballet at Phillis Wheatley Community Center over the summer. Instructors from International Ballet provided two free ballet classes per week at the center for seven weeks.

The introductory classes focused on ballet conditioning and fundamentals and culminated in a performance for families and members of the community on July 27. The classes were open to youth ages 8 – 12 years old, and no prior experience was required.

We so appreciate the partnership with International Ballet Academy. Because of their support and expertise, eleven young people had the opportunity to try something new and challenge themselves.

Randy Jackson

Executive Director, Phillis Wheatley Community Center

Performing Arts have long been a program focus for the center. Phillis Wheatley hosted the classes in the newly-renovated performing arts practice room and the performance on the gymnasium stage.

 The classes were funded by a grant from the South Carolina Arts Commission (SCAC) that supported activities to expand student access to arts education opportunities, complement standards-based arts instruction aligned with school curriculum, and address South Carolina’s 2017 College and Career Ready Standards for Visual and Performing Arts Proficiency.

“We are so grateful for the support we received to begin this outreach program because it helps the children and the community at large. Exposure to ballet can open a whole new world to children and they immediately feel the benefits of focus, hard work, attention to detail, and pride as they start to feel and see the results of their work. Other benefits come from listening to beautiful classical music and being in community with others who share the experience with them.”

Sarah Shoemaker

Executive Director, International Ballet

Each class was 1.5 hours long and was taught by International Ballet faculty member Lydia Sanders with assistance from International Ballet alumna Sophia Brown. In addition to the classes, the SCAC grant funded new ballet shoes, dance bags, and yoga mats for every student to keep.

Jackson and Shoemaker say they are exploring ways to make lessons available at the center throughout the year.

“We look forward to continuing to provide unique opportunities to youth in our community,” said Jackson.

“Phillis Wheatley has been an amazing partner, and we want to be able to keep the program running year-round and free to interested students,” said Shoemaker.

About International Ballet

Based in Greer, International Ballet is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization with the mission to inspire joy and success through professional ballet training and performances. In the 23-24 year, IB will train students ages 3-adult, present free “Storytime Ballets” for children in partnership with Greenville County Library System and produce The Nutracker and Swan Lake accompanied by the Greenville Symphony Orchestra at the Peace Center. Learn more at internationalballetsc.org.

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About Phillis Wheatley Community Center
The Phillis Wheatley Community Center provides a wide variety of services and programs to youth, adults and seniors in Upstate South Carolina. Founded in 1919 by Hattie Logan Duckett, the center has been serving the community for more than a century. Learn more at philliswheatleysc.org.

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