Dance world supports owner of new Saudi ballet school

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11/07/20

The 4-year-old daughter of the proprietor of the ballet school has a passion for the classical art. (Supplied)

Leading figures from the Kingdom’s performing arts sector have rallied to support the mom who set up the controversial training institute in the Eastern Province despite opposition
JEDDAH: The owner of a new Saudi ballet school has received substantial support from the Kingdom’s community of performing artists.

After opposition from some sections, leading artists have rallied to support the enterprising mother who set up an institute for teaching ballet in the Eastern Province.

The story was featured on the state-run Al-Ekhbariya TV channel though without mentioning the name of the ballet school’s owner or any of the instructors working with her.

The proprietor decided to establish the dance center for women and girls after her 4-year-old daughter showed a passion and talent for the classical art. One instructor at the school said she had been inspired to teach dancing to children after following the career of Saudi ballet star Samira Al-Khamis, who earned worldwide fame as a dancer and was featured on the official poster of the first Red Sea International Film Festival, which was this year postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

While the number of ballet institutes opening in major Saudi cities, such as Riyadh and Jeddah, has been on the rise, some traditionalists still reject the idea of girls learning any form of dance. Some Saudis took to social media to condemn the new school, while others, including men, posted messages of support.

The involvement of Saudi women in sport, culture, and the arts is being encouraged in the Kingdom with authorities removing many of the restrictions that once limited their participation in public life.

Sera McKnass, founder of iBallerina Jeddah, said: “There is a huge demand in the Eastern Province for this classical art (ballet). I really hope with all my heart she brings real technical ballet, not creative commercial training.

“That was one of the main things iBallerina faced for the first four years in terms of educating people about what is real classical ballet and away from the misconceptions and mix-ups with gymnastics or contemporary dance.”

McKnass hoped that the owner of the new ballet institute would find success with her venture. “It will definitely be quite a journey,” she added.

This article was first published in Arab News

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