14-year-old girl from the slums becomes a real-life ballerina princess!
This is the ultimate Cinderella story! A 14-year-old girl from the slums of Manila, Phillipines is on her way to becoming a professional ballerina after an outreach program saved her life. Jessa Balote lives in the town of Aroma, a very poor area in Manila where residents mostly make their living as trash pickers and whose kids usually grow up to do the same work.
Jessa's life changed when at the age of 10, she auditioned for a scholarship at ballet company Ballet Manila; she got the scholarship, which would grant her entry into the company which would train her to become the amazing dancer she is today! And this story only gets better!
Since she started with the company, she has gotten the opportunity to perform in many renowned ballet productions, and even traveled to Hong Kong--all thanks to this program and its found famous Philippine ballerina Lisa Macuja.
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Jessa recently took her first plane ride to Hong Kong to compete in the Asian Grand Prix ballet competition, where she was a finalist. This wouldn't have been possible had it not been for the Philippines' most famous prima ballerina, Manila native Lisa Macuja, who founded the dance company Ballet Manila and its dances cholarship program Project Ballet Futures, to help poor kids of Manila by offering them a scholarship and classical ballet training that lasts six to seven years.
The dance school and outreach program currently has about 55 students enrolled along with 60 others who pay to go there. Jessa was talented enough to pass the audition for the dance scholarship which is now offering her a chance to be something most children in the impoverished area can't achieve.
The best part is that Jessa, along with the other students, receives a monthly stipend to cover meals, ballet outfits, and much more, in addition to getting paid after performances. This is beneficial to their families who are constantly struggling living in poor conditions. The only catch is, students have to maintain their grades up in order to stay in the school.
Although her earnings are not much, Jessa finds that this school is a step towards having a brighter future. She dreams of becoming a school teacher and even wants to take on more challenging roles as a professional ballerina.
We're sure she and her classmates will be able to achieve their goals as this amazing institute has given them an amazing opportunity. It's great to see that there are now different outlets to help kids in impoverished nations have a chance to make a better living. Who knows? We may just see Jenna in a Lincoln Center ballet production one day!
Image via Jessa Balote/Facebook