When you think of dance in Africa, you are very likely to think of high energy and physically exacting performances but certainly not ballet.
One woman’s effort has changed that in the Nigerian city of Lagos.
The woman behind the transformation of the dancers is Sarah Boulos, a Lebanese-Nigerian who decided to start the school after she noticed how important dance was in local communities.
Dance is a language and you can speak it to anyone even if you don't speak English you can speak dance and ballet is one of those dance languages that when you speak out people hear it.
That journey which started in 2004 has been rewarding as over a hundred dancers have passed out of the school.
“We have a very well received audience when it comes to dance and even when it comes to music with dance, so we’re very excited about that. Nigerian community is very open minded because they are starting to love that SPAN is part of Lagos, SPAN is part of Nigeria, SPAN has raised children, Nigerian children to become successful to open bank accounts and have families so when we have a SPAN event, they will come and they will watch and they will enjoy,” she explained.
In a studio downtown of Lagos, the Society for the Performing Arts teaches dancers in the fluid, agile French dance form.
These dancers had no prior knowledge of ballet, they picked up the skill and everything they know about ballet right here.
“We saw it a lot on TV and we looked at it like something that probably could not be taught to us because we thought it like a white man dance or probably something they just, it’s their culture and all that because we have our culture and our own kind of dance style,” said Abiola Fakiya, a dancer who now teaches ballet after training at SPAN.
“But when I came to SPAN and I actually had to learn ballet it actually taught me that it’s not just about culture because dance is a language and you can speak it to anyone even if you don’t speak English you can speak dance and ballet is one of those dance languages that when you speak out people hear it and when you learn something like ballet it helps your body,” she added.
Its not only potential ballet dancers who come in here for training, hip hop and street dancers have chosen the dance form as it enhances their creativity and flexibility and adds to the richness of their chosen dance forms.