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Mentee Spotlight: Anabelle

Every Saturday for about two years, Anabelle went to Ballet & Books class at Southside, and worked with Grace, her mentor. Grace is an amazing, patient and wonderful person, and she works so well with Ana.

Talia and Grace are the mentors who I communicated the most with during our time, but all of the mentors are really inspiring because they are genuinely present and interested in dancing and reading with our little ballerinas…you can feel it! Talia as the founder of this program is an amazing wonder woman and her passion, care, love and support of diversity and inclusion shows. Throughout the past few years, Talia has taken an interest in my older daughter who is herself an artist and great dancer, but was discouraged by the dance culture, expenses, and lack of diversity and inclusion. She has shown her support and provided significant encouragement to Ayden Grace, even offering to share her jewelry creations for others to see.

As for Ana, she has a place and people to call a home. Although she is shy in some aspects, she loves Grace and Talia, and always looks forward to Ballet and Books. Ana continues to practice ballet, and in fact, her most graceful and tidy movements occur in the shower and bathroom while she is getting ready. She has fleece-lined tights with pictures of cats on the knees, and she tends to dance her best while wearing these, demonstrating her most angelic and graceful hand movements and turns.

Ballet and Books has certainly inspired me, a sole-providing parent to two creative daughters who love to dance, because the program actively supports diversity and inclusion on varying levels given that it is no cost, and dancers are even provided leotards, tights and shoes for their recitals. The program meets families and children where they are, and the mentors are young leaders who love the kids. I remember Grace telling Anabelle that seeing her on Saturdays was the best part of her week, and that is something that will not be forgotten.

I want to say thank you so much for such an amazing program led by an inspiring leader and groups of mentors. We love you and appreciate you all so much, and your work is great and has a huge impact on children and their families. Thank you so much!

Ballet and Books is a national, non-profit organization striving to reduce the literacy gap through the hybrid storytelling of dance and reading.