Founding Artistic Director and CEO of New Ballet Ensemble and School saw a need for access to excellence in arts training for those from marginalized communities, poverty and broken households. The philosophy behind the mission: children and young adults learn from one another; arts education should address the whole child, the whole community and should not be disseminated in a vacuum, but rather in a cross cultural environment with exposure to multi-cultural forms and to people of different races, socio-economic and religious backgrounds. Therefore, she engineered a school with a goal of hiring the graduates, formed a non-profit and recruited from both public and private schools, from the poorest as well as wealthiest neighborhoods and those in between with a focus on communities near the studio, a renovated 14,550 square foot warehouse in the heart of the city.
New Ballet was built on partnerships with Human Resource organizations as well as elite museums and public and charter schools. 40% of the students come from minority populations. Between 25-40% of the students dance on full scholarship in any given year. Up to 30,000 Memphians are reached through performances each year, two thirds of whom are students in Title One schools. Hip Hop, Ballet, African, Chinese and Flamenco are all part of the curriculum. Late beginners with a passion for dance are brought into the program and trained in Ballet at a basic level while they are allowed to rise to prominence in African, Hip Hop and Flamenco as the work comes to fruition, eventually becoming assimilated into the Core Ballet Program as desired by the student.
In 2010, all four seniors went on to college with awards and scholarships. Two out of the four were full scholarship students at New Ballet, the other were able to afford New Ballet tuition, but earned grants at the Universities. Founded in 2002, graduates now attend and have attended NYU, Tisch School of the Arts, Boston Conservatory, Universities of Arizona, Georgia and Oklahoma, Utah, Ball State, Washington University, all in Dance Majors or Minors.
Graduates have been featured on MTV, the Ellen DeGeneres show, So you Think You Can Dance, the Today Show, the making of the Michael Jackson "This is It" DVD and are employed in Head Start programs, at Ballet Schools across the country as teachers and administrators, in professional ballet companies and as members of the New Ballet professional Ensemble and professional trainee program.