Olón, Ecuador – Ballet Program
Growing Ballerinas in Olón
It all started in a small room that was used for music lessons and expanded so quickly that we moved to the main Community Building within 3 weeks. Initially advertised as free ballet classes for children 6 years and older, we had 5 students in the first class – – ages 4-14! (The little sisters who tagged along to class were so darn cute that I didn’t have the heart to exclude them.) Little did I know the power of word-of-mouth communication in this small village. By the second week, we had 27 students and attendance just kept growing. Within a month, we had 74 students and decided to split the group into two classes. As they say, the rest is history.
Olón is a small fishing village on the Pacific coast of Ecuador. There is a local folk-dance group, instrumental music lessons provided by volunteers from a nonprofit organization in Germany and many local artists in the area. But the families here live simply and must travel 2-3 hours by bus to reach the nearest cities that offer ballet classes. Therefore, most of the dancers have never had the opportunity for ballet classes, much less the structured, on-going ballet training Trifecta Arts was providing free.
Our first session, which started in March (2018), included classes two days per week for five months. Some of the statistics will amaze you.
Session 1 Statistics
- 54 Classes
- 147 Students
- 1,265 Student hours in class
Mirror, Mirror on the Wall
Our second session continued with outstanding attendance. Through community donations and a matching gift from Trifecta Arts, a full wall of mirrors was installed in the Community Center to improve the learning environment. (Click here for News Article)
Celebration and Certificates
In October (2018), we had a wonderful celebration recognizing the important role arts education plays in the lives of young students. Students received Certificates, local artists created new works live during the celebration, and community leaders spoke to parents about the special opportunities that their children were receiving. (Click here for News Article)
Ballet in the Park, Ecuadorian Style
During our twice weekly classes, we began working on choreographed dances for a performance during Olón’s annual celebration in December. Through the incredible generosity of two of my former employers in Minnesota – Larkin Dance Studio and Summit Dance Shoppe – every dancer had a brand-new pair of ballet slippers to wear. It was the first public performance for almost every dancer and a huge success. (Click here for News Article)
Session 2 Statistics
- 64 Classes
- 104 Students
- 1,460 Student hours in class
Our “bridge session,” from the Christmas holidays until school vacation started, lasted for only a few weeks, but we logged more hours in the classroom and continued building skills and welcoming new students.
Session 3 Statistics
- 16 Classes
- 89 Students
- 310 Student hours in class
Hip Hop Hits Olón
“Summer Vacation” on the coast of Ecuador coincides with the hottest season here and runs from February until late April. And things heated up even more with the arrival of Trifecta Arts’ first guest teacher. Heather Johnson Eaglebourne, from Minneapolis, MN, came to Ecuador to share her love of dance with the children from many of the nearby villages. Ballet classes continued with Anne Koho instructing and Hip Hop classes were introduced by Heather. We expanded geographically with children from 10 nearby villages participating.
Let there be Air!
We battled through the heat, even with classes starting at 8 am, but soon decided that another donation to the Community Center was in order. Trifecta Arts provided three wall-mounted fans to cool down the dance space and the community matched that action with an additional three fans to accommodate the entire building. (Click here for News Article)
National Ballet of Ecuador joins Trifecta Arts on Stage
Our two-month summer vacation session concluded with an extra special event – the National Ballet of Ecuador came to Olón to share the stage with our dancers! The parents and community once again stepped up, along with Trifecta Arts, to fund the travel expenses for a fully equipped outdoor performance by their Contemporary Company. Professional flooring, lights, backdrops, sound system, classically trained dancers and their technical support crew made March 30, 2019 an evening to remember. (Click here for News Article)
Summer Session Statistics
- 48 Ballet Classes
- 26 Hip Hop Classes
- 49 Students
- 707 Student hours in class