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Young dancers start nonprofit to aid other dancers

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En l’Air: A Dance Foundation, a nonprofit organization, is now soliciting funding and accepting financial assistance applications from Sonoma Valley dancers.

En l’Air was founded by five teenage ballet dancers – Natalie Anderson, Elizabeth Eagles, Isabel Falls, Angelica Griggs-Demmin, and Anika Ljung – to help Sonoma Valley children and teens enjoy the benefits of dance regardless of their financial circumstances. The inspiration for their nonprofit came from close to home; when one of their fellow dancers was unable to take a ballet exam due to financial circumstances, they decided to take action.

En l’Air will help pay for dance classes in Sonoma Valley, whether ballet, jazz, hip hop or other forms of dance, as well as necessary dance gear and related expenses.

“Dance teaches strength, flexibility and discipline, but for us it’s more than just a physical activity. It’s a sport, but also a form of artistic expression,” said Angelica Griggs-Demmin, one of the En l’Air founders. “We hope that En l’Air will help build a more closely-knit dance community in Sonoma, and we don’t want inability to pay to inhibit participation.”

En l’Air falls under the umbrella of Dancers Group, a San Francisco-based nonprofit. Therefore all donations made to En l’Air are tax deductible as allowed by law. Donations can be made online at enlairdancefoundation.weebly.com, or by mail to 474 France St., Sonoma, CA 95476.

En l’Air is also accepting financial assistance applications from dancers 18 and under to cover dance classes, dancewear and dance-related auditions and programs. Applications are reviewed within a week of receipt.

Requests are granted based on demonstrated need and availability of funds, and dancers can reapply for assistance every three months. Applications and more details regarding eligible expenses for funding are available on the En l’Air web site, enlairdancefoundation.weebly.com/.

The five En l’Air founders are 16-year-olds from Sonoma Valley who share a love of dance and have danced together at the Sonoma Conservatory of Dance for a cumulative total of more than 35 years. This spring, the Sonoma Conservatory premiers “Appalachian Cinderella” on Saturday and Sunday, April 12 and 13. En l’Air will be hosting a post-show event on Saturday for children where they will be able to meet and have their pictures taken with cast members while enjoying light refreshments.

Proceeds will benefit En l’Air, and tickets to the events will be sold in advance or directly after the show. More details on this and other En l’Air happenings can be found on the “Events” tab at dancingyourdreams.weebly.com. Tickets for “Appalachian Cinderella” are for sale now, and more information is available on the Sonoma Conservatory of Dance “Events” page at sonomadancestudio.com/upcoming-dance-events.php.