In conversation with Katia Kullengren: Founder of Ballet Without Borders

In conversation with Katia Kullengren: Founder of Ballet Without Borders

Ballet Without Borders is a not-for-profit organisation that brings ballet education and ballet pathways to children who would otherwise not be able to access this art form.

Ballet education is viewed as part of the bigger picture; a pathway to experiencing art and music as well as learning about discipline, hard work, dedication and teamwork - which are all vital life skills. But more importantly, the belief is that every child should have the opportunity to try ballet, to experience variety in life, and to grow and learn regardless of their financial or social status. The mission is to bring ballet to all. 

We are so excited for this interview with Katia, because at Ballet Trove, we are equally as passionate about children discovering gifts within and connecting with themselves and the world at large on deeper levels. 

Ballet Without Borders’ vision is to break the real and perceived barriers of ballet accessibility in Australia. This powerful art form should be available for all children, regardless of their socio-economic status.

 

Katia, tell us about your first introduction to ballet.

Having been born in Ukraine, ballet has always been a strong part of my culture. However, I didn’t start proper ballet classes until I was in my twenties.

What made you curious and fascinated about it?

In Ukraine, and Eastern Europe in general, ballet is a fairly readily accessible art form. It is aspired to by both girls and boys and is considered very prestigious. The curiosity was more can I start so late, as opposed to what is this all about?

When you move and dance, what thoughts do you have?

I don’t have many! It is like a meditation. I listen to the music and hope that my legs are turned out.

How did Ballet Without Borders start?

Having migrated as a child from the Ukraine, like many immigrants, my mother and I found ourselves in poverty. There was no money for anything much let alone ballet. As an adult, I decided that I wanted to sit my exam and do what I might have attempted to do for a living, should I have received the chance. It occurred to me how expensive ballet was in Australia - how unattainable it is to most. 

I truly believe that ballet has so much to offer a young child and is a beautiful art form, a different language, discipline and artistry. But even more importantly, I believe that every child should have a chance to have the same experience as any other, and that means that it's not only sports that is on the public school system menu.

What are the deeper benefits of ballet for children?

As discussed above I believe ballet has so much to offer! It's not about being the next star of The Australian Ballet, it's about being able to experience the rich culture and history that ballet brings. It teaches movement coordination, listening skills, and is magical to watch.

How do these values carry over into other areas of life?

Whilst ballet can teach a great deal to a child about hard work and resilience, I think that it's about having the ability to broaden horizons - see new things and possibilities.

When observing children discover the wonderment of ballet, how do they connect with their truest selves?

The concentration and joy on their little faces. The best thing is seeing boys experience the thrill of dance, a sense of themselves they didn’t know they had!

What gifts within have you noticed transpire when children encounter ballet?

I think I see often two things; not realising that they can move like that and the joy it brings and the actual new world that is opened up to them. Those of us privy to ballet often do not understand just how many children have no idea about this world beyond the pink ballet stereotype.

Finally, how can people get involved with Ballet Without Borders?

There are many ways to get involved with us. You can donate, submit a form to volunteer or teach, buy a T-shirt for our campaign or attend one of our events throughout the year.

Katia, thank you so much as we are excited to see the impact made by Ballet without Borders!

To follow the journey and learn more, visit the links below. 

Website:  https://www.balletwithoutborders.org/aboutbwb

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