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Charlotte Ballet virtual elite dance lessons takes Reach
20-week scholarship program moves to digital space
Published Wednesday, October 7, 2020 2:00 pm
by Ashley Mahoney | The Charlotte Post

Charlotte Ballet’s Reach program, which offers scholarships and dance instruction for low-income children, moves into a virtual space starting Oct. 9.

Charlotte Ballet is dancing around COVID-19 to provide elite dance instruction to children with financial need.

The Reach scholarship program is going virtual this fall in order to continue to provide free dance classes to children ages 7-10. Additional auditions will take place via Zoom on Oct. 9. The program has been split into two semesters, with the first taking place virtually from October-February. Charlotte Ballet intends to return to Mecklenburg County recreation centers for the second semester March through May. The program has been condensed to 20 weeks and classes take place twice per week. First-year students receive free leotards, tights and shoes.

“What we didn’t want to do was start the program virtually and move it into the recreation centers and then parents weren’t able to get there kids there,” Charlotte Ballet Director of Education and Community Engagement Bianca Bonner said.

Virtual auditions have created a more relaxed environment, which allow Charlotte Ballet leadership the opportunity to speak one-on-one with parents. Bonner noticed that students have “more pride and more courage, because they are in their own homes.”

A virtual semester helps keep everyone safe during the pandemic, but it also helps alleviate restrictions for students who may not typically have transportation to classes. It also will allow students to focus on their own practice.

“It’s always great to have your friends and the camaraderie of others around you, but when you’re the only one in the space doing what you do, then you are a little bit more focused and the teacher can actually focus a little more as well,” Bonner said.

Virtual instruction requires access to technology in order to participate in the classes. While the expectation is that most students will have access due to devices provided by Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools, Charlotte Ballet is cognizant of the digital desert that exists in the area.

“We are taking advantage of Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools already addressing all those needs,” Bonner said. “That’s why we feel having these Zoom classes will be a little bit easier versus if schools weren’t giving out Chrome Books or iPads or anything of that nature. If we do have any student that is in need, we will press upon our donors who are extremely giving, or press upon anyone who may want to donate so that a child can be a part of this program. What we don’t want to do is leave anyone out do to technology.”

Reach typically concludes with a year-end production and the plan is to provide the experience for the upcoming program students whether it takes place virtually or on a stage.

“That is how we started the pandemic, with our virtual yearend production,” Bonner said. “We contacted all of the students and asked them to send in 30 seconds of what they learned in ballet, 30 seconds of what they learned in their other forms of dance, and went to work. We created a video for their families and for the Charlotte Ballet family, donors and friends. We created something for them so they can culminate the season and it wasn’t just hanging. By any means necessary, we are going to finish it with some sort of performance.”  

For more information: https://charlotteballet.org/reach-scholarship-program
Listen to the entire interview with Bonner on The Creatives podcast.


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