When that little girl is trained by a dancer whose resume includes the famed Alvin Ailey Company, suddenly more than parents sit up and take notice. Which is exactly what Councilwoman Fannie Lewis did. Upon learning that Chanda Ford-White was moving to Lewis’ District, she recruited her to teach dance to inner city youth. The conversation, which took place in 1998, was the beginning of what has become Cleveland Inner City Ballet. Within three years, Ford-White, its Founder and Artistic Director saw it expand to serve over 800 inner city youth in the Cleveland-Hough neighborhoods.
In 2010, she established Pink Tutu Outreach Company allowing underserved children to study ballet to perform in professional venues in greater Cleveland.
“For the past year and a half I wanted a home base to work from,” she says. “I would pass Tyler Village every day driving to and from Cleveland State University while I was pursuing my sociology degree. I saw the beautiful business signs and was intrigued.”
Now she is pursuing a graduate degree in Nonprofit Management at Cleveland State. She is leasing 2600 square feet at Tyler Village, ripping out walls to create one big studio equipped with bars, mirrors and a sound system. Her students, girls and boys ages 18 months to 14 years, will see walls of photos of others who have danced before them.
“For children who didn’t grow up knowing about dance, walking into a studio makes you feel like a princess. You want them to like they want to study here.