Stories of inspiration.
We’re so fortunate in dance to be surrounded by inspiring stories. Young people reaching the heights of artistic achievement, over-coming obstacles to attain their dreams and success. Stories of people whose passion and commitment touch our hearts, lift our souls and motivate us to want to be a little better than we were yesterday, and sometimes, to join with others to make the world a little better than we found it. At MDM such a story came to us recently, and soon we became a part of that story.
We share it, in the hope it will inspire many more.
This story is about a Kenyan man, Denis, who after dancing abroad for many years returned to the slum of Kibera in which he was raised. Situated about 7kms from the city centre of Nairobi, Kenya’s Capital, Kibera is the largest slum in Kenya and indeed the largest urban slum in Africa, where poverty is the norm, unemployment is high, and people earn less than $1 a day.
And yet despite the fact that most people cannot afford to even send their children to school, where clean water is scarce and disease and poor hygiene are prevalent, here Denis returned to offer ballet classes to the youth of this area. Now, twice a week 200 young people between the ages of 6 and 18 flock to a make-shift studio with an earthen floor, that floods when it rains, to enjoy ballet. They come with no ballet shoes and whatever clothes they have been wearing for the day. They come, they dance, they smile.
MDM became entwined in this story after it travelled to us from an unlikely source; it came by virtue of the fact that our dance circle, even or global dance community is so close.
Sylvie Guillem, one of the world’s most celebrated dancers became aware of Denis and his story and was moved to want to help. Sylvie began talking to colleagues and through a mutual friend, MDM begun a correspondence with Sylvie of what we might be able to offer these passionate dancers in Kenya.
“We are so lucky to have easy access to so many privileges, and often do not realise how fortunate we are. With almost nothing, yet those kids still have a large smile on their face when they are dancing!”
~ Sylvie Guillem
Within a few weeks of our first communication, MDM had sent over two packages of dance shoes and some sample apparel to Denis in Nairobi. And now, for the first time these children are dancing in shoes and in leotards and their smiles are just that little bit brighter. Perhaps that extra brightness is not because of the shoes, nor the leotards, perhaps it’s because they know their story was heard and that people cared enough to want to reach out, make a connection and become a small part of their lives.
MDM are now dedicated to staying in touch with Denis and this school in Kibera, continuing to supply as many shoes as we’re able each year. It’s a small gesture in a large world. But our hope is that by making it, it will inspire many others to want to reach out and make connections across our broad dance community, whether that be in a local suburb, across a state, a country or, forging an unlikely and unique bond with people across the other side of the world leading very different lives but who, like us, have been touched by the muse of dance.
“Never doubt that a small act of kindness can change the world; indeed, it's the only thing that ever has.”
~ Margaret Mead