Training Kenya’s Next Ballerinas From Africa’s Biggest Slum

By Fredrik Lerneryd

With more than 2.5 million people in some 200 settlements, the slum dwellers in Nairobi represent more than half of the city’s population and occupy merely 6 percent of the land, according to a report [PDF] released in 2014 by the African Population and Health Research Center.

As the biggest slum in Africa and one of the biggest in the world, Kibera houses some 250,000 of them.

Every Wednesday at Spurgeons Academy, a school in the middle of the indecipherable maze of Kibera’s narrow streets and alleys, students take the chairs and benches out of a classroom and sweep the floor.

The school uniforms are switched to bright-coloured clothes.

When teacher Mike Wamaya enters the classroom, the students get into position and place one hand on the concrete wall as though it were a ballet bar.

Classical music plays out of a small portable speaker, and the class begins.

The Ballet class is part of Annos Africa and One Fine Days charity activities in slum areas around Kenya. Apart from ballet, the children can choose dance, music, creative writing and film. In Nairobi they work together with two schools in Kibera and one school in Mathare, another slum closer to the city centre.

“Ever since I was a kid and watched ballet on our TV, I wanted to dance and one day become a ballerina,” said Pamela, one of the students from Kibera who was very happy when she signed up for the ballet class.

Just before the Ballet class is about to start, the dust from the floor lays like a thick cloud in the air when the children sweeping the floor and preparing the room for today's ballet class
Just before the Ballet class is about to start, the dust from the floor lays like a thick cloud in the air when the children sweeping the floor and preparing the room for today’s ballet class Photo: Fredrik Lerneryd/ Al Jazera
Some of the older girls is practicing a dance together, while the ballet class takes place there is always a whole group of curious students around the classroom/dance studio
Some of the older girls is practicing a dance together, while the ballet class takes place there is always a whole group of curious students around the classroom/dance studio
Mike Wamaya is a former proffessional dancer and teacher for the ballet class, The ballet is part of Annos Africa, a charity who also have art classes, traditional dance music and much more in slum areas around Kenya
Mike Wamaya is a former proffessional dancer and teacher for the ballet class, The ballet is part of Annos Africa, a charity who also have art classes, traditional dance music and much more in slum areas around Kenya
The shoes is very precious for the group and they make sure that they are well maintained and secured, even though they are used to dance barefoot, the shoes is much needed to advance in ballet.
The shoes is very precious for the group and they make sure that they are well maintained and secured, even though they are used to dance barefoot, the shoes is much needed to advance in ballet.
Some of the older students train one day a week in a upperclass ballet school in Karen, the routines here is the same as in Kibera, but the concrete floor and walls is replaced by wooden floors and a big bright room.
Some of the older students train one day a week in a upperclass ballet school in Karen, the routines here is the same as in Kibera, but the concrete floor and walls is replaced by wooden floors and a big bright room.
Pamela and the other girls in the Upperclass studio in Karen. Here they have enough space to perform every move without the limitation of space.
Pamela and the other girls in the Upperclass studio in Karen. Here they have enough space to perform every move without the limitation of space.
Cooper Rust is the Artist director at Dance center Kenya, she says that even though the kids train in a small, old room and without shoes, there is really not much difference from the kids who train in her studio a few times a week, here she drilling Dickens, 13 in his dance
Cooper Rust is the Artist director at Dance center Kenya, she says that even though the kids train in a small, old room and without shoes, there is really not much difference from the kids who train in her studio a few times a week, here she drilling Dickens, 13 in his dance
The mix of classical music, Mike's voice going" One, Two, Three Four!" and the colourful dresses turns the grey cold room into a real ballet studio
The mix of classical music, Mike’s voice going” One, Two, Three Four!” and the colourful dresses turns the grey cold room into a real ballet studio

photo-ferdrik-10

Cynthia and two boys from the group is the ones who hands out donated shoes to the rest of the group. The kids themself notice a huge difference dancing in shoes, and you can see the happiness in their eyes when they find a pair that fits.
Cynthia and two boys from the group is the ones who hands out donated shoes to the rest of the group. The kids themself notice a huge difference dancing in shoes, and you can see the happiness in their eyes when they find a pair that fits.
"When I was young I saw ballet on TV, I liked the dance and the pointing shoes, and I wanted to be a ballerina since then" says Pamela 13, one of the older students in the class
“When I was young I saw ballet on TV, I liked the dance and the pointing shoes, and I wanted to be a ballerina since then” says Pamela 13, one of the older students in the class
Some of the girls during warmup before the Ballet class, the class is held in a classroom, so before they start they need to empty the room and clean the floor.
Some of the girls during warmup before the Ballet class, the class is held in a classroom, so before they start they need to empty the room and clean the floor.
Source: Al Jazeera

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One Response to Training Kenya’s Next Ballerinas From Africa’s Biggest Slum

  1. fredrik lerneryd January 12, 2017 at 1:56 pm

    Hello I’m Fredrik Lerneryd and this is my story and my pictures, I want to get in contact with an editor at the site and sort out payment for using my without permission.

    Reply

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