Stephanie Kurlow, a 14-year-old from Sydney who has been dancing since she was two, stopped performing ballet after converting to Islam in 2010 and struggling to find a school that could cater to both her religious beliefs and dance needs. But Kurlow hasn’t given up on her dream, and she’s now launched a crowdsourcing initiative to help her become the first hijabi ballerina in the world. Kurlow hopes to raise $10,000 to train full-time at ballet school, and her ultimate objective is to one day open a performing arts school of her own in Sydney — one that would cater to dancers of different cultural backgrounds.
Stephanie, who converted to Islam along with her two brothers, their Australian father, and their Russian-born mother in 2010, says her new religion initially threatened to derail her love of ballet. Some strict Muslims believe dancing is “haram,” or forbidden, and Kurlow has received negative comments to that effect on social media. “I think that’s what may have stopped some other Muslims from following a career they want, but I know what I’m doing is right and I’m going to keep doing it,” says Kurlow. “It’s not just about me doing ballet. It’s about Muslims becoming engineers, or TV presenters, or writers.”
Read the full story at The Sydney Morning Herald.