Rise Up School of Dance isn’t just a place to learn ballet.
“It’s less about dance and more about people,” said Alyssa Ruesch, executive director.
Ruesch started the nonprofit to give kids from all different backgrounds access to dance. The school is the only one located on the west side of Salt Lake.
“I grew up not able to afford ballet classes,” Ruesch said.
She won a scholarship to a dance school in a drawing and it changed her life — even leading to this career path. Now she is giving others the same opportunity, and hopes to use ballet to help others experience this life change.
If we can use it for more than just making them great dancers, that’s really worth everything,” she said.
In addition to learning classical ballet techniques, dancers learn some important life skills.
“We have a class that we do after ballet, and we learn about strengthening ourselves and our mental well-being,” said Sol Diaz, 13.
Sol’s mom says these classes have helped her blossom.
“She used to have a lot of anxiety that she would deal with, but she manages it so healthfully,” said April Diaz, Sol’s mother.
Teachers also check in to see how dancers are feeling physically, mentally, and emotionally before each class. They also do encouragement exercises at the end.
“It’s been great,” said Noelle Peach, 11. “The teachers are so kind and my friends are great here.”
Ruesch wants to make sure Rise Up gives dancers self-confidence in a positive environment, especially since ballet has often come with some stigmas for dancers.
“Everybody should have a space where they feel seen and known and loved for who they are,” said Ruesch.
Rise Up School of Dance offers tuition help for families who need it, especially those whose children qualify for free or reduced lunch.
Donations also help sponsor dancers and help by dance wear, costumes, and more.
“Really anything helps,” Ruesch said.
Mountain America Credit Union donated $500 to Rise Up School of Dance.
The school offers classes six days a week for kids aged 3 to adults.
If you are interested in helping out or joining a class, visit the Rise Up School of Dance website.