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Press Release: Two UK dance organisations donate dancewear to ballet students in Africa and Guatemala

Jan McNulty

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Dancing Boutique and Elmhurst Ballet School in the UK donate over 200 items of dancewear to ballet schools in Africa and Guatemala





Elmhurst Ballet School, the vocational school with close links to Birmingham Royal Ballet, and its uniform supplier Dancing Boutique are working together to send over 200 items of dancewear to two ballet schools and charities based over 6,000 miles apart. The Leap of Dance Academy in Nigeria, Africa, and Transformación Ballet in Sololá, Guatemala will benefit from the gift. 


Following conversations between Elmhurst’s Principal Jessica Ward and Dancing Boutique owner Kate Curtis, 140 boys’ and girls’ leotards, over 70 pairs of satin, leather and canvas ballet shoes, and 18 pairs of pointe shoes will be divided and sent to the two schools. Elmhurst will arrange delivery and cover all shipping costs. 


The stock with a retail value of £8,000 has been generously donated by Dancing Boutique, a family owned business with over fifty years’ expertise in providing a wide range of dancewear to both individual dancers and dance schools in the UK. Its latest uniform for Elmhurst is made from sustainable fabrics that originate from ocean waste and abandoned fishing nets. 




Elmhurst Ballet School is based in Edgbaston, Birmingham and celebrates its 100th anniversary in 2023. It is a world-renowned centre of excellence that prepares talented young dancers aged between 11 and 19 to become dance professionals. The school continues to pioneer ground-breaking health and wellbeing initiatives that improve the career chances for its students and graduates go on to dance in companies across the globe. The school proudly lists dance royalty Carlos Acosta and Wayne McGregor among its Vice Presidents.


Leap of Dance Academy’s profile skyrocketed last summer when its founder, Creative Director and self-taught ballet teacher Daniel Owoseni shared a video on the academy’s Instagram feed. The footage shows 11-year old student Anthony dancing barefoot in the rain outside his Lagos home. The video went viral and highlights the young dancer’s tenacity, passion and talent for dance. Offers of support flooded in to the school and included an invitation from Elmhurst for 19-year-old Olamide Olawale, the academy’s very first student, to take part in a virtual summer school. 


Founded by Christine Tjahjadi-Lopez, Transformación Ballet strives to grow student’s self-worth and determination through dance. The school teaches a range of dance styles including ballet to children of all socio-economic backgrounds, including two orphanages on Lake Atitlán, Sololá. The school challenges and motivates its students on an individual level whilst teaching them how to create and achieve in a healthy and supportive environment.


Both Leap and Transformación work with children who are hugely underrepresented and unreached in the dance and ballet world. Their ethos aligns with that of Elmhurst’s – that ballet should be enjoyed and seen by anyone who wishes to engage, regardless of their situation and background. 


Constantly working with her team to break down preconceived ideas that the ballet world is exclusive, Jessica Ward, Principal of Elmhurst, said: At Elmhurst we are committed to the belief that talent is classless and access shouldn’t be about parental income or because you are white and have done ballet since the age of two. It should be about anyone who has a passion and interest being able to seek out and participate in the art form. The amazing work of Leap of Dance Academy and Transformación Ballet proves that ballet can help a young person surpass their potential. Working together with Dancing Boutique we hope this donation moves the schools and their students closer to achieving their dreams. 


Kate Curtis, owner of Dancing Boutique, added: We are delighted to be able to play a small part in encouraging ballet across the world. We were inspired by some of the stories we have seen of children pursuing dance despite some difficult circumstances. Being a parent of a dancer, I know the commitment each and every one of these students makes to achieve their goals. Given the obstacles the past year has presented, it is truly lovely to be able to spread some joy to dancers in need.” 


Christine Tjahjadi-Lopez, teacher and Founding Director of Transformación Ballet, said: When I asked the children what their favourite part of 2020 was, so many of them said that it was dancing and learning from people from all around the world. One mother said that in a very difficult time, Transformación Ballet was able to fill her house with music and dance. It is incredible how this dance program has been able to open the world-view of our students, who come from the rural highlands of Guatemala. This wouldn't have been possible without all of our amazing volunteers, monthly donors, and now this generous gift from Dancing Boutique and Elmhurst Ballet School. I am very grateful."


Daniel Owoseni, Creative Director and Founder of Leap of Dance Academy in Nigeria, commented: “Thank you so much to Dancing Boutique and Elmhurst Ballet School for arranging this dancewear gift and not only supporting us but Transformación Ballet as well. We are honoured and blessed to receive such generous support and love from the wider dance community.”


Jessica Ward recently interviewed David Owoseni during Elmhurst Ballet School’s current ‘Let’s Talk Dance’ series. Christine Tjahjadi-Lopez will be interviewed on 4 March 2021 at 8.30pm (GMT) as part of the series of interviews broadcast on Elmhurst Ballet School’s LIVE Instagram feed. 



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