As a makeup artist working in the fashion and entertainment industries in Hollywood, I usually write about makeup and beauty, and all the good things associated with these two passions of mine. Today however, as a result of donating my time to a wonderful children's ballet DVD project, starring The Kirov's Prima Ballerina Diana Vishneva and AllyCat the Ballet Cat, and Directed by Ash Baron Cohen, I would like to talk about the fantastic opportunities that this program is bringing to children all over the world. The story behind it, which is something I also want to share, is an inspiring tale of love, faith and passion.
The video project was masterminded by my good friend and ballet dancer, Allyson Tang. Ally is a successful producer in Hollywood who is passionate about children's causes. She produced the award-winning Discovery Channel Documentary "Little Warriors" that focuses on children born with HIV/AIDS.
Ally came to learn ballet for the first time as an adult which, for a ballet dancer, is very late if your aim is to excel at this art. However, she defied all critics who thought her crazy to pursue her new-found passion as a career, and practiced six days a week for hours - taking over 1,500 classes in five years. Soon she realised that this is where her destiny lay, and as if by magic, (call it what you will - I love a bit of magic in a story!) events transpired in her life to help her realise and formulate a plan to not only continue spending her days dancing for as long as she wanted, but to bring ballet to under-privileged children all over the world.
Ally devoured everything she could learn about ballet. The first ballet performance she attended was "Romeo and Juliet" starring Diana Vishneva, Prima Ballerina of The Kirov, Mariinsky Ballet, and ABT. She was captivated by Diana's pure soulful dancing. Ally was training daily with the master teacher/choreographer, Stefan Wenta (former partner of Paris Opera Ballet's Prima Ballerina Yvette Chavvire, and choreographer for Warren Beatty's "Reds"), and it was during this time that Ally and Ash, who were working together on a film project, came up with the idea to create a ballet dancing cat, who enchanted children, and inspired them to dance. This cat (Allycat The Ballet Cat) would be the main character in an instructional Ballet video series, where a portion of the proceeds would go towards funding talented, under-privileged children, allowing them to attend ballet schools, and also providing the necessary ballet shoes and attire.
Meanwhile, Ally wanted to create a fundraiser to help a young child who was accepted to a prestigious ballet school but did not have the monies to attend. A tiny internet article on AOL featured an interview with Ally and the young child, and this is where the magic begins: Out of six billion people in the world, the article miraculously came to the attention of Diana Vishneva, who made contact out of the blue and donated the remaining amount of tuition that was needed. Ally was blown away by the power of her intentions to create a better world for children, and how she had attracted the attention of the world's number one Prima Ballerina!
Through Diana's and Ally's shared intent to help young talented dancers receive the opportunities they deserve, the two struck up a friendship, with Diana inviting Ally to the Chanel and Christie's event in New York City, where she was being honoured, and signing copies of her book "Beauty In Motion". Ally shared her dream of creating the "AllyCat The Ballet Cat" DVD and Diana loved the idea and agreed to be part of it. Imagine, a football trainee meeting David Beckham and they decide to play a football game together on the same team!
After months of careful planning, the day of the video shoot dawned and it was a day of dreams coming true, with" Allycat The Ballet Cat" dancing a duet on stage with her inspiration, Diana Vishneva. Seeing this was really magical for me, and it was a privilege to see a dream coming true before my eyes. If Ally had listened to certain people, and not pursued her passion for ballet, dancing on stage with Diana Vishneva would not even have been a dream, let alone become a reality. I for one, having known Ally for a long time, can attest to the power of how her love and inspiration, and faith that it would lead her to her life's purpose, created this magic, that has culminated in this amazing project.
In the ballet video, the cats, Allycat and Diana (who transforms into a Russian Royal Cat) lovingly teach ballet and positive body image to a group of talented multi-ethnic young dancers. They emphasise the importance of being strong, confident and fit, NOT thin! The children are also encouraged to embrace their own uniqueness, realizing that there is nobody quite like them. Other positive side effects of practicing ballet are a respect for themselves and others, and an appreciation of the arts. Ballet has also been known to improve mental development, expand imagination, and make it easier to express emotions and creativity.
As we know, childhood obesity is on the rise in the UK, and the high cost of after school sports, fitness and dance programs often excludes the people who would benefit from them the most. That's why fitness and dance videos are such invaluable products, bringing valuable instruction to you and your kids, helping you all to stay fit and healthy for a fraction of the cost. As a mother of two young boys, I can attest to the feel-good power of spending an hour dancing around in your living room with your kids! It does more than tone your body - it lifts your mood more than you can imagine.
I am so proud to have contributed to this worthwhile and unique project. Here is the website if you'd like to check out the great work that continues to help children around the world: www.AllyCatTheBalletCat.com
Meanwhile, follow your passions - they may lead you to your heart's desire!
Follow Jane Cohen on Twitter: www.twitter.com/janecohenmakeup