Grace of Giving: Conservatory boosting ballet dreams
Written by Karen Zamor, Express-News
Read the Article on MySA.com
When Kristen Kellogg was in the seventh grade, she dreamed of becoming a prima ballerina. But for Kellogg and other dancers, the studio they were dancing at did not offer the serious ballet training they were looking for.
With the help of parents and ballet instructors, Kellogg and her fellow classmates opened a conservatory for dancers who wanted to explore a professional career.
The Ballet Conservatory of South Texas is in its seventh year, and it’s one of the area nonprofits being featured as part of the San Antonio Express-News’ 18th annual Grace of Giving series.
Kellogg said the conservatory aims to provide high quality training to its students, regardless of their financial situation.
“It was never to make profit,” Kellogg said. “The teachers wanted to help us become the best ballet dancers we could be, and becoming a non-profit was the natural choice.”
Kellogg, now 21, is a ballerina for Ballet San Antonio, and she still contributes her time and skill to the conservatory as a way to “further (her) passion for ballet and give back to the community at the same time.”
Marieli Guardiola Pope, artistic director at the conservatory, said it not only offers classes to those who want to pursue a professional ballet career, it also partners with a local middle school in an outreach program.
Pope said conservatory instructors offer free ballet classes twice a week to sixth- and seventh-grade students at KIPP Camino Academy, a tuition-free college preparatory middle school. The conservatory provides free ballet attire, as well as costumes for the showcase at the end of the season.
The partnership started last year with only sixth-grade students. Pope said after seeing the excited children and proud parents after the academy showcase, she decided to continue the program. Currently, there are 20 sixth-grade students and 13 seventh-grade students who participate.
“Our goal is to continue this experience for all the students. That’s why we are relying on funds,” Pope said. “Ballet is physically demanding, but helps them emotionally, with their confidence and self esteem, and providing that experience to them is very important.”