Youth Ballet Guild strives to draw support for arts

The elegant movements of a dancer cause her white tulle skirt to flutter across the stage. Her younger sister sits in the audience in awe, hoping one day she too will be a graceful dancer.

Kellye Self wants more kids to have that experience. That’s why she and other parents of Grebel Dance students recently created the Alabama Youth Ballet Guild.

“We want to do whatever is necessary to enhance the kids’ artistic education,” Self said. “It’s an expensive proposition to put it all together and create magic. And if you are a young girl watching a dancer lift up on her toes, it is magic.”

Self said creating that magic takes a big toll on the families involved. The dance company must pay for the venue, backdrops, costumes and extras such as programs.

It also means hours of sewing, painting and designing. Self pointed out that even an unembellished tutu costs as much as $200. Pointe shoes price around $100. For a family like Self’s, dancing gets pricey.

“We want to raise funds so that we can take some of the burden off parents,” Self said. “We want dancing, and performing, to both be accessible to anyone who wants to participate.”

Debbie Grebel, who operates Grebel Dance with her husband Stefan, said she never wants cost to prevent someone from experiencing the arts.

“You know times are tough for people right now,” Grebel said. “We don’t charge too much for our performances, and we don’t want to.”

What she really wants, Debbie said, is to see more support of the arts.

“We really want to be a part of the arts in the community,” Grebel said. “It starts with the parents’ involvement, and then hopefully, more people will be brought in so we can expand our efforts.”

Attendees of the guild’s first event, Dessertisements, enjoyed a performance, hors d’oeuvres and a silent auction. Self said the guild succeeded in raising enough money to apply for 501(C)(3) status. Guild members also hope to host a fundraiser in the fall to benefit “The Nutcracker.” The guild wants to one day provide scholarships as well.

“The arts are often not profitable, but what they give us is immeasurable,” Self said. “The enjoyment I get from watching it; I can’t put a price on that.”