World’s First ‘Hijabi Ballerina’ Is Forging a Path for Dancers from Diverse Backgrounds

She’s only 15 years old

Meet Stephanie Kurlow, a 15-year-old Australian dancer who is changing the face of ballet in Australia. Kurlow grew up in the south-west of Sydney, and has been dancing since the tender age of 2. She also happens to wear a hijab.

In 2010, Kurlow stopped performing ballet when her family converted to Islam. At the time, finding a school which accommodated both her religious beliefs and dance needs seemed impossible, and Kurlow thought her professional ballet dreams were over.

“I didn’t have any role models that looked like me. I didn’t have anyone who had a layout of, ‘This is what I’ve done, this is how I’ve become this,’” Kurlow told the SBS.

However, inspired by the determination and success of public figures like principal ballerina Misty Copeland, Emirati weightlifter Amna Al Haddad, and American news anchor Noor Tagouri, Kurlow decided to give her dream one more shot.

She launched a crowdfunding campaign to raise money for a full-time ballet-school education, and her story quickly spread worldwide, catching the attention of Swedish sport fashion company Bjorn Borg in early 2016. The company was so moved by Kurlow’s story that they awarded her their first ever Game Changer scholarship, equal to around $8400 AUD and sufficient to cover a year of ballet tuition.

“She’s a true game changer,” said Bjorn Borg marketing director, Jonas Lindberg Nyvang. “We were genuinely inspired to learn about her story. The courage it takes for a 14-year-old to fight for her right to dance ballet against all odds is exceptional.”

To read more, find the full article here.

To read about more other world-changers, order your very own copy of “Girls Do Good” here.