A top ballet school has become embroiled in a race row after a nine-year-old girl was banned from performing – for having braided HAIR.
Eve Elliott was left in tears after teachers told her she couldn’t take part in a performance because her hairstyle made her “look different to the other girls.”
Mum Lara Evans, 29, said her daughter has been left believing “brown girls can’t do ballet” and the incident has crushed her dreams of becoming a professional dancer.
She claims Eve feels singled out for being mixed race after a string of bullying incidents over her skin colour at the prestigious Hereford Ballet School.
The academy’s principal Helen Dubovie Brown first told Lara the strict dress code stated all girls needed to have their hair smoothed back into a bun on April 5.
But when Lara pointed out her braids could still be put into a bun she claims Mrs Dubovie Brown then said it made Eve “look different”.
The head then text Lara the night before the Hereford Performing Arts Festival to say her daughter could not take make in the performance on April 18.
Yesterday (Thurs) mum-of-two Lara, of Moorfields, Hereford, said: “She is absolutely devastated.
“Her hair is naturally short and curly, and she only wanted to braids to look like the other girls who have long, blonde hair.
“Now she says she will never do ballet again because brown girls can’t do ballet.
“We live in a small town and Eve is the only girl in the school who is not white.
“They’ve teased her before asking where she’s from, and saying she looks like the black characters from TV shows.
“Now the teacher has said she can’t perform because she looks different she’s put it together.”
Eve had been with the 80-year-old ballet school for six months when she got her hair braided visiting her father in New York for a week on April 4.
Lara, who works as a personal assistant, added: “When we came back from holiday I was aware they had a show, but hadn’t even thought the braids would be a problem.
“At her first rehearsal back the Tuesday before the show I spoke to Ms Dubovie Brown and asked if it would be a problem and she said ‘yes because it really makes her look different’.
“I didn’t know what she meant by ‘different’ and I was a little worried by that phrase, but I made sure it could go into a bun with the braids for rehearsals on Saturday.
“At those rehearsals I spoke to other parents, who said she looked fine and you couldn’t even tell it was braided when it was in a bun.
“I then said to Ms Dubovie Brown we wouldn’t be taking the braids out.
“But she text me at 9.30pm on the Sunday before the show to say if they weren’t out she couldn’t perform.
“I was shocked. She had never mentioned her not performing.
“So I asked Eve what she wanted to do the next morning, and she said there was no way she was taking her braids out.”
Lara had paid £80 on Eve’s outfit for the £210-per-term school’s performance, but has not been refunded despite not being allowed to perform.
Lara said: “I had complained to the school twice before when she was bullied by the other girls, but that I could understand because kids don’t know these things.
“But now the headmistress has singled her out it sends a horrible message to Eve.
“I don’t know what her intention was, but it’s left Eve feeling singled out for her skin colour.
“She said she’s had her dream crushed, that she can never be a professional ballerina like she wanted to be.
“She’s thinks she’s let her friends down.”
Eve performed her dance alone in front of her family in their home and after Lara put a video of it online it has received over 15,000 likes.
Lara added: “I have been inundated with messages of support and she has been offered a place at a new dance school.
“I was gobsmacked by the response, it’s been amazing.”