Student uses donations to teach ballet in Kosovo

HUNTINGTON, Ind. A donation of ballet equipment helped one class of Kosovo girls learn to dance.

The donation from Fort Wayne Ballet helped Huntington University senior and former dancer Joy Hersey teach a class while overseas.

Fort Wayne Ballet donated 50 leotards, 40 pairs of shoes, skirts and ballet posters to the class of 20 girls. Hersey taught two classes for girls ages 7 to 11 at a community center in Pristina. Hersey danced for Fort Wayne Ballet in the years prior to her trip.

"We're always proud of our students as they carry on showing the joy of movement to others," said Karen Gibbons-Brown, executive and artistic director of Fort Wayne Ballet. "We are always proud to help with that."

Hersey traveled to Pristina, Kosovo, for her PRIME internship through HU. As a missions major, PRIME (Practical Research and Immersion for Ministry Effectiveness) program prepares students to enter the field of ministry after graduation.

"My mom suggested that I talk to Fort Wayne Ballet about getting the dance clothes," Hersey said. "When the boxes arrived, I just cried and cried. I couldn't believe it."

Hersey traveled to Kosovo in the fall of 2012. In addition to dance, she taught English-speaking classes to the girls, but the ballet classes opened the door for a ministry that built the relationships needed to get the consent to hand out Bibles to her students.

"I believe that ballet helps girls develop etiquette, poise and helps girls feel more feminine and learn respect of authority. ... It was also an avenue for me to love them," she said. "It gave me a chance to talk to the girls about how beauty is inward."