Brooklyn Ballet offers a series of free performances for students in Brooklyn public schools in January and March 2010. The performances are called "What is Ballet?" and they mark the beginning of a residency program called Elevate that introduces children to the discipline and art of ballet with six to twelve weeks of free, in-school training with professional dancers. Performances take place:
January 13 10am PS 207 4011 Fillmore Ave. Brooklyn, NY 11234
January 13 1pm PS 276 1070 E. 83 St. Brooklyn, NY 11236
January 14 10am PS 243 1580 Dean St. Brooklyn, NY 11213
January 14 1pm PS 307 209 York St. Brooklyn, NY 11201
January 15 9:45am PS 312 7103 Avenue T Brooklyn, NY 11234
January 15 1:30pm PS 251 1037 E. 54 St. Brooklyn, NY 11234
"What is Ballet?" will be performed at IS 14 and IS 68 on March 18, 2010.
"What is Ballet?" is a 50-minute all-grade assembly that shows the evolution of ballet through performances of baroque, classical and contemporary choreographies. Basic ballet exercises are introduced, as well as the "Language of Dance" (LOD) notation system, which forms the basis of the Elevate pedagogy. LOD is a notation system developed to help students understand movement and choreography through visual symbols. The program was designed by Brooklyn Ballet's Artistic Director Lynn Parkerson and Education Director Oona Haaranen. On completion of the residency, gifted students are offered scholarships to continue their education at Brooklyn Ballet School.
In order to ensure that dance programs reach children who can most benefit from them, Brooklyn Ballet offers residencies to schools where the majority of students live in public housing and a high percentage qualify for free or reduced school lunch, sometimes at a rate more than twice the city-wide average. Elevate serves over 1,000 children in eight public schools in the neighborhoods of Marine Park, Canarsie, Sheepshead Bay, Flatlands, Bergen Beach, Weeksville, and Farragut.
Where are the Black Swans?
Many observers of the classical dance world have lamented the lack of diversity in top ballet companies and schools. The presence of black dancers on classical American stages has historically been restricted, and those dancers who gained entry to prestigious companies often found that their visibility in productions was less than that of white peers. Elevate is a crucial part of Brooklyn Ballet's efforts to create a ballet school that reflects the demographics of its borough. The majority of children who take classes at Brooklyn Ballet are African American and Latino. Brooklyn Ballet has built its diverse student body by keeping its doors open to the community and using its resources to aggressively seek out talented children all over the borough. The communities served by the public schools hosting Elevate are, by ZIP code, about 52% African American and about 14% non-white Latino, on average. Since promising students who participate in the residency are offered scholarships, classes at Brooklyn Ballet School are filled with talented children of color. In coming years, as alumni of the School move on to professional careers, Brooklyn Ballet hopes to contribute to a classical dance world that more accurately reflects the world around it.