Dana Ailsworth, Director at Aquent
“I was one of those children who saw The Nutcracker and always wondered how I could be a part of the magic. Richmond Ballet offers the opportunity for children in the community and across Virginia to marry creativity and movement through their Minds In Motion program. Outreach and accessibility are super-important to their future patronage and success.”

Eleven-year-old Neri’ah has loved to dance since she was 2 years old. According to her mom, that’s all she wanted to do, dancing to Michael Jackson’s music and participating in Praise dance at her church. However, despite Neri’ah’s passion and talent, her family simply couldn’t afford formal dance lessons for their daughter.

When Neri’ah reached the fourth grade, Richmond Ballet brought its Minds In Motion (MIM) program to her elementary school. Each year, MIM introduces more than 1,500 RVA fourth graders to dance, also offering a scholarship program called MIM Ambassadors for training at the School of Richmond Ballet. After much hard work and dedication, Neri’ah received the Ambassadors scholarship and became eligible to audition for The Nutcracker. She’s made it into the cast for the past two years (that’s Neri’ah in this year’s production in the photo above).

Although Neri’ah also wants to sing and play a musical instrument, she’s  completely focused on becoming a professional dancer. MIM has given her a safe space where she can fall in love with the arts and confidently move toward her goals.

If she could give advice to other young dancers, Neri’ah says: “Just go for it. Be confident in yourself because you can do anything you set your mind on.”

Help share the power of dance with Richmond’s young people by volunteering or donating to Richmond Ballet today!