At the 2019 All South African Open Dance Championships, I watched an 11-year-old compete in the Juvenile Silver Ballroom category. She was mesmerizing. I knew I was watching a South African champion in the making. Later that same afternoon, she dropped by our studio dress-stand to admire some of the ballroom dresses that were for sale. In my brief 10 minute conversation with her, I learnt that she loved dancing more than anything in this world and dreamed of one day owning and dancing in one of these bejewelled competition gowns.
She went on to tell me that she knew she would have to stop competing one day when she “was big” because her parents would never be able to afford any of the beautiful competition dresses on display. But for now, she was going to keep on practising twice a week, wearing her school shoes, so as not to ruin her only pair of ballroom shoes which were strictly reserved for competitions.
This true story is the same true story of many talented dancers in South Africa, in particular those from disadvantaged communities. Having access to even the most basic dancewear and shoes to take their dance careers further, remains a challenge and an unfulfilled dream. As a dancer from a privileged background and inspired by overseas initiatives, I looked in my cupboard and wondered why I was holding on to dance “stuff” that I no longer used or no longer fitted me.
And so I decided to donate all my gently worn dancewear and shoes to those dancers in need, in the hope that other privileged dancers, might wholeheartedly and passionately do the same.
Yours in dance, Lilly