Philadelphia’s Chocolate Ballerina Company brings dance to Black communities

Courtesy of Bryan Buttler Media Relations, LLC

Chocolate Ballerina Company, a contemporary community-based dance organization that supports the hidden talents in youth and adult artists of color in the Philadelphia region, illustrates the struggles and successes of African-American culture through dance.  Founded in 2017 by Artistic Director Chanel Holland, Chocolate Ballerina Company engages underserved communities through dance, to inspire and instill a sense of hope, discipline, and confidence through  training and through professional development.  The company offers free dance classes, outreach programs, pop-up performances, masterclasses, and more, both digitally and in-person.

“Good dance is introducing the variety of dance art form styles to society and creating a new genre that’s meaningful and memorable,” notes Holland, who devotes her time teaching Vaganova technique at Chocolate Ballerina Company.  “Our vision is to provide urban areas stripped of the opportunity to receive professional training and exposure to cross-studied dance forms, celebrate Black culture, and allow the community to witness the unknown.”

Holland created Chocolate Ballerina Company due to the lack of ballet culture in urban communities and performance opportunities for black artists. At the age of 16, Chanel was accepted into The Alvin Ailey School, a world-class training program for aspiring dancers. She studied at Koresh, The University of the Arts, National Dance Institute NYC, and Wissahickon Dance Academy. Determined to put her knowledge to use, Chanel’s experience includes becoming a Complexions’ Apprentice, member of the Philadelphia Dance Company II, NAACP-ACT-So’s 2011 Gold Medalist, 2010 Choreographer of the Year, and a member of the Sixers Junior Dance Team. Through her time in the dance community, Chanel engaged in the opportunity to be an active background dancer for various local and international artists.  She is a graduate of Temple University and a lead teaching artist for BalletX’s in-school dance education program, Dance eXchange.

FREE DANCE CLASSES
Chocolate Ballerina Company hosts free dance classes for active and inactive artists who seek professional training. By attending a free dance class, participants will spend an hour and a half learning a mixture of all level ballet and contemporary form and technical training.  The company will be holding a free dance workshop for students ages 13-14 years old on April 10, 2021 from 4pm-6pm at Equilibrium Dance Academy, 1802 S. Broad Street, Philadelphia.  Additionally, Chocolate Ballerina Company recently took their teaching company on tour across the country, providing complimentary dance classes at community organizations in Los Angeles, Atlanta, and other cities.  Details can be found here: https://www.chocolateballerinacompany.com/free-dance-classes.

The company also offers three levels of training:
1) Pre-Prima Ballerinas, ages 8-12, learn and master ballet technique at the early stages of training. Pre-Primas will undergo beginner level classes catering to building stretch and strength. These classes will build the basic skills of both ballet and hip-hop by going back to the basics of movement. Building the foundational tools and mastering the first stages are essential for preparing to be a professional artist.
2) Prima Ballerinas consist of intermediate dancers ages 13 – 17 years old, who fine-tune their ballet, contemporary, and hip-hop techniques. Prima Ballerinas will receive intense training and professional performance opportunities.
3) Premier Prima Ballerinas are 18 and up. This group of professional artists seek advanced training and artistic development. Premier Prima Ballerinas explore advanced level classes that challenge the art of technique and choreography. These classes prepare these professional division artists to transition from studio to stage.

OUTREACH PARTNERSHIPS
Chocolate Ballerina Company is committed to taking dance beyond traditional studio and theater environments. In addition to creating new dance projects and inspiring the next generation, Chocolate Ballerina Company engages in innovative community outreach initiatives. The youth outreach program connects with local community organizations and early childhood education centers to serve economically-challenged youth by bringing passionate dancers to perform, demonstrate, engage, and teach movement skills and creative exploration. Past Outreach Partners include Temple University Upward Bound Program, Mt.Airy Playground Recreation Center , Water Tower Recreation Center, and Franklin Learning Center.  Recently, Chocolate Ballerina Company partnered with the New Freedom Theatre in Philadelphia; they are planning a live stream taped performance in June for Black Music Month.

POP-UP PERFORMANCES
Chocolate Ballerina Company travels throughout the Philadelphia area performing at local festivals, concerts, and arts & culture events free of charge. Their repertoire of culture-changing choreography gives back to the community by exposing the art of dance at both indoor and outdoor community events.  Upcoming pop-up performances can be found here: https://www.chocolateballerinacompany.com/popup-performances

AFFORDABLE PRIVATE LESSONS
Chocolate Ballerina Company offers private lessons for ages 5 and up for $50 an hour. Private lessons are a great way to introduce a child or adult to the world of dance or fine-tune the skills already possessed.  Lessons can include tips on audition submissions, including choreography geared toward requirements; artist development, including a healthy and nutritious meal plan; technical progress, including strength equipment to increase flexibility and overall movement; and portfolio development.

For more information on Chocolate Ballerina Company’s programs, visit www.chocolateballerinacompany.com.

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