The art of dance has always served as one of many creative outlets in Nigeria that remains in the spotlight, whether it be celebratory renditions of popular moves like the Shoki, Bobo or Azonto on both local and international stages. For Lebanese- Nigerian Sarah Boulos, sharing her teenage passion of ballet dancing among Nigeria’s youth has opened the door for many beyond simply embracing a new dance move.
A public health practitioner turned dance instructor and mentor, Boulos is the founder of the Society for Performing Arts in Nigeria (SPAN), a non-government organization that was established in 2005 with the aim of creating a world-class standard for performing arts education and expression in Nigeria.
“We hear every day of people trying to achieve their purpose, trying to follow up on what they are supposed to do for themselves to better their lives and at the same time trying to find out what job opportunities are available for them out there as well as trying to make a difference, especially when they are artistes,” she mentioned in an interview with This Day.
While most universities in Nigeria provide a performing arts curriculum, SPAN offers an opportunity for those who cannot afford an education, and then fortifies this by proving a platform that allows the newly minted dancers’ skills to work for them. “Usually what they do is that they come to SPAN where they are taught for free and then they raise money because sooner than later, they become very good dancers, musicians and actors, they save that money and then could go to the university.”
Her dream and vision of promoting ballet in Nigeria from a small garage in her home to national stages have been en pointe, particularly as Nigeria’s elite have gravitated more than ever before to this performance dance.
But it has not come without its challenges.
In a recent interview with the BBC, the artiste shared a few hurdles along the way — friends and potential funders who laughed at her vision, dancers who had never been exposed to ballet and existing stereotypical attitudes towards ballet.
But where passion and opportunity intersect, especially in a talent rich country like Nigeria, there is no stopping Boulos.
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