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Ballet company seeks furniture donations

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (FOX13) -

The days are counting down to the end of a social media-driven fundraiser for the Collage Dance Collective, an inner city school that teaches modern ballet.

For years it was a school without a permanent home. It now has a studio but the inside is lacking the necessitates.

Great ballet schools and companies often start out as someone's vision, until they get the financial and community to support to make it a reality.

Collage Dance Collective has gone from vision to reality with dreams of helping Memphis children learn ballet; even if their parents can't afford it.

The one thing stopping them for now is furniture.

MORE: Collage Dance Collective Kickstarter donor project

The growing art district of Broad street has a new tenant, a modern ballet school for inner city children.

The ballet company arrived in Memphis in 2007, but only recently found a permanent space to hold its 15 classes a week that range from beginner to advanced.

"To have a home, that what it is," Collective," said Kevin Thomas, artistic director. "It's a home. I am just very grateful to have a home now."

No more empty classrooms and church basements for 11-year-old Nathan Payson to hone his skills.

"I like to take dance because it give me a challenge," Nathan said.

A new home, committed instructors, and eager students as everyone tip toes around one obvious problem.

"We are in a new building and right now we are missing fundamentals," said Brandye Lee.

"We need a special floor called marley," Thomas added. "The marley is so that the dancers are not slipping. My girls on point shows don't slip.  It's not dangerous."

There is no special floor, no mirrors on the walls, no mounted ballet bars or furniture in the lobby.

It's an issue.

Outfitting  the studio would cost about $12,000 and the board of directors of the school is seeking donations.

"A lot of parents benefit from having scholarships for their children here, so it's more than we can do alone," Jessica Ruffin said.

Collage has turned to Kickstart, a fundraising website that stipulates the non-profit must reach its monetary goal or all the donations have to be returned.

"The children are here are very talented," Ruffin said. "This is an opportunity for them to become exposed to something they would never be exposed to, top level teaching and broaden their horizons."

Donors can help by purchasing specific items: they include the staples of any studio, the special floor, ballet bars and, of course, the important mirrors.

"It will make my job a little easier, it will make it easier for them to get better," Thomas said.

So Memphis, a city known for Beale Street and the blues now has a change to "kick start" a school that will teach inner city children ballet, the demands and disciplines that come with it.

"That's what will carry them through the training as a dancer, the training as a human being," Thomas said.

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