BEDFORD-STUYVESANT - With a little help from Oprah Winfrey, an Alvin Ailey dance star has opened a training center for aspiring young performers in Bedford-Stuyvesant.
Dwana Smallwood had a quick rise from a gifted student to a member of Alvin Ailey's elite dance company, which prompted Winfrey to recruit her to the Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy for Girls in South Africa. Smallwood says opening a school near her home in Brooklyn has always been a dream.
The 4,000-square-foot facility is housed in a refurbished building in the heart of the neighborhood. Smallwood says Bed-Stuy has long needed a performing arts center.
"Our children are under duress. It's a matter of urgency to have facilities like this for them to flourish," Smallwood says.
"My ultimate dream is not that they become professional dancers," Smallwood says of her future students. "My ultimate dream is that they become the owner of their own lives."