(Image by Anya Thakur)
Liberty High School

Poem: Meet the Malala Foundation’s ballet dancers, using art to empower and uplift

Meet the Malala Foundation’s ballet dancers, using art to empower and uplift. As shared by the Malala Fund, Yousafzai spent her 21st birthday at Sugarloaf Mountain in Rio, “where a young crew of dancers flaunted their ballet skills — and shared how dance helps them stay in school and overcome violence in Brazil’s most dangerous favelas.” Inspired by Yousafzai’s work and our shared commitment to girls’ education and global empowerment, comes “Dancer.”

“Dancer” is a poem written by 14-year-old poet and women’s advocate Anya Thakur to raise awareness and share unheard voices. She works to empower and uplift communities as founder of GirlUp Dallas, a UN Women organization, and a MetoWe partner with ArtRising, which provides arts enrichment to underprivileged communities and creates diverse programming for South and East Asian women. Hosting education, self-defense, and language and literature classes to empower rural women in Delhi, Mumbai, and Munipur, and humanitarian efforts with Myna Mahila, which empowers women in rural India through health education, her women’s advocacy promotes UN Women’s mission to ensure a fair and equitable future, and she has traveled throughout the United States and India to speak for girl’s education and empowerment.


we wanted to dream, but the nightmarish chaos of war and bloodshed swirled closer towards us every day in the beaten favelas of the sugarloaf mountains that were never sweet. and so we danced to make beauty where there was none, and be our own sweetener.

to grow roses from a mountain of ashes and soot, embers and smoke tinging our vision with specks gray until we finally made our own light to penetrate the haze.

to rise above to where the sky meets the earth and kiss the sunset on tiptoe, arched gracefully as if ready to take flight.

we leapt and soared as we found ballet and we found ourselves and in it, our salvation. a way to peace and education.

in pale pink satin encasing and embracing caramel and chocolate skin like ivory and ebony.

bunches of tulle and lace trim, rosettes, cream and coral tints.

there were no bloody shoes or broken toes. only mended hearts and retained courage.

we were scared of violence erupting and screams outside fading to staccato gleams of stars as we keep dancing, but noise faded to nothing as we flaunted our newfound skills and finally flew on wings of silk and satin.

dancers that didn’t flee, we are not refugees. but we will make our futures brighter, what we are is warriors and fighters.