A Chance to Dance in East Palo Alto...Requires A Home for Dance in East Palo Alto
Newly formed En Avant School of Dance is the only outlet for ballet training in the city of East Palo Alto. We'll soon outgrow our part-time lease and need your help to secure a place to call home for the start of the 2019/20 school year!
A Community in Need
How can a city of 30,000 people on the affluent San Francisco Peninsula not have a single ballet school for the development and enjoyment of its citizens, young and old? Especially when the nearby communities of Menlo Park, Atherton, Palo Alto and Belmont boast many options? Yet this was exactly the case in April of 2018, when Mannakin Theater and Dance joined forces with Catholic Charities Youth Club at St. Francis of Assisi to conduct a nine-week pilot in classical ballet technique for their members, aged 9 to 13. Seventeen young girls eagerly signed up and donned leotards, shoes and tights, with hair neatly dressed for their first ballet lesson. Midway through the inaugural class, one young dancer flashed a broad smile and bubbled over as she leapt across the floor, "I knew ballet would be fun!" Take a look at their journey by clicking on this link.
Moving Forward, or "En Avant"
In the ballet studio, any step that travels forward can be described as en avant [pronounced "on-uh-von"]. This French term literally means "moving forward" and seemed the perfect choice to director Nathan Cottam, when naming the school that grew from the successful pilot program described above.
In October of 2018, En Avant Ballet School was founded on a part-time lease, in the fellowship hall of the East Palo Alto Seventh-day Adventist Church. The sole offering for clalssical ballet instruction in East Palo Alto, children from 4 to 11 years old now study up to three times per week and are making steady progress! After only a few months of training, many of them performed at the prestigious Yerba Buena Center for the Arts and the San Francisco War Memorial and Performing Arts Center.
The Next Step...A Real Studio
Just like Pinocchio exclaimed his thrill at becoming "...a real boy!", our talented young Emely Mariscal couldn't contain her joy at the prospect of dancing in "...a real studio! with mirrors and real barres!" Then, gracefully spinning around in ordinary tennis shoes that she'll make you believe are handcrafted out of pink satin with ribbon for laces, she asked, "Will it be beautiful?"
Dance studios are beautiful places! Beautiful because they have photos and paintings on the walls to inspire hard work and dedication; beautiful because they have full length mirrors and natural light and high ceilings to encourage the flight of dreams as grand jetes; beautiful because they have warm wooden barres that have held hands with generatons, and specialized floors that have launched leaps and lives.
Our hosts at the Seventh-day Adventist Church and St. Francis of Assisi have been most gracious, but in order for En Avant Ballet School to bring to East Palo Alto the type of dance opporunities that abound in affluent Menlo Park, Atherton and Belmont, we need a studio like the one descibed above. One that is as dedicated to dance, creation and performance as our students are willing to be. That allows a full complement of classes for young children, teenagers, adults and seniors. One that provides beauty, inspiration and community to everyone who dances through the door.
Help Create a Home for Ballet in East Palo Alto!
Your contribution will go directly toward securing and preparing a home in East Palo Alto for the students of En Avant Ballet School. Please lend your hand by donating today, and ensure that every child has a Chance to Dance in East Palo Alto.