Imagine an organization, situated in a city ridden with poverty and crime, whose primary goal is to offer free dance training to any child or adult who wishes to learn and has the resources to bring the best talent in the international dance world to participate in the education of these enthusiastic individuals. This organization exists. It is called New Orleans Ballet Association.
Last week, Soloist Dana Genshaft, Director of Education Charles McNeal and I all had the opportunity to spend the week with the students of this organization. New Orleans is a vibrant city with so much love, passion, and joy to share with the world and our work with the students at New Orleans Ballet Association (NOBA) loudly echoed this assessment.
Upon arrival we were taken to a brand new studio built into the front of a multi-purpose recreational facility, in a low-income neighborhood. It was positioned for all who entered the facility to see the students and professionals hard at work. The studio was newly furnished with a Harlequin floor (the best) and our classes were accompanied by a live pianist! All of this was the result of the tireless efforts of the dedicated administration team of NOBA.
On the second day the true spirit of the organization was displayed in full while I was teaching the afternoon class. During the class a young man, age 12, was on his way to basketball practice and happened to glance through the window into the studio where we were meticulously breaking down the execution of a tendu. He was glued to the window. After several minutes, the director of NOBA approached the young man and asked him if he was interested in taking ballet. The young man was handed a release form. Within in an hour he had run home and gotten his mother’s signature. When he returned he was handed his uniform: black tights, white t-shirt and black ballet shoes and sent in to attend his very first ballet class… all for free.
If only a desire and passion were all that anyone ever needed to have in order to receive the training and education necessary to achieve the mastery of their most desired pursuit. In New Orleans, for a young child whose pursuit is dance, that is all they need. Thank you, New Orleans Ballet Association for inspiring me to dance.