American Ballet Theatre dancer Scout Forsythe was perusing Instagram last Friday when she came across what she described as a “genius idea.” Upon reading how sunglass company Raen was offering admission into a giveaway in exchange for donating to the Australian bushfires, the dancer decided that she would replicate the idea with pointe and flat shoes sourced from her colleagues at ABT.
The response from fellow dancers was swift, with a plan for sharing the project unfolding by the end of the day. Once announced, the project raised over $1,000 in one day and caught the attention of the dance company BLOCH, which agreed to match all donations made. At the close of the campaign Tuesday, Forsythe secured $9,000 in funds for organizations of the donors’ choice.
Dancers who signed on included Catherine Hurlin, ZJ Fang, Courtney Lavine, Skylar Brandt, Cassie Trenary, Devon Teuscher, James Whiteside, Christine Shevchenko, Hee Seo, Gillian Murphy, Stella Abrera, Isabella Boylston, in addition to Australian natives Stephanie Williams and Chelsea Meiss Fain.
“American Ballet Theatre dancers as a whole are socially conscious beings that are always willing to help a fellow dancer,” Forsythe said in an email. “Cassie Trenary helped me streamline the whole thing after class on Friday, and Gillian [Murphy] posted about it that afternoon! Everyone was on board and super helpful with getting the word out on social media. I’m so thankful to have colleagues that are so supportive.”
The project is meant to help provide aid and raise awareness for the Australian bushfires, which continue to ravage the country and threaten wildlife, claiming roughly 25.5 million acres, 27 human lives and the lives of an estimated 1 billion animals. Through wildfire drives, fundraisers and donations, various high-profile celebrities have contributed critical funds toward relief, with Australian comedian Celeste Barber recently making news for raising more than $32 million for the Trustee for the New South Wales Rural Fire Service and Brigades Donations Fund.
The ABT dancer’s effort follows other campaigns that have leveraged social media to aid in fire relief, as well, including a donation drive from an Instagram model that raised more than $700,000. For Forsythe, the ballet shoe giveaway has demonstrated the power of her platform, which counts more than 22,000 followers.
“I think this is the first time that I really realized how impactful social media can be for environmental causes I believe in and support,” Forsythe said. “I know this is going to turn out well. I am very much myself on social media so I attract people who share similar views and values as mine.”
Following the success of the initiative, Forsythe hopes to do more fundraisers in the future. “It’s such an easy way to help advocate for our planet and link it to the ballet world,” said Forsythe, continuing, “Maybe this spring I can auction off tickets!”