The DEAEF YDP began providing free after-school dance programs in two Memphis schools several years ago in partnership with the New Ballet Ensemble & School in Memphis.
DEAEF Partners with New Ballet Ensemble to Bring Free Dance Classes to Kids in Memphis, Tennessee Schools
Memphis, Tennessee is known as the home of blues and the birthplace of rock ’n’ roll—not to mention gospel, jazz, R&B, rap, and soul. With such powerful artistic roots, it’s no wonder that the community has welcomed the DEAEF Youth Dance Program (YDP) to their innovative city.
The DEAEF YDP began providing free after-school dance programs in two Memphis schools several years ago in partnership with the New Ballet Ensemble & School in Memphis. The DEAEF hires teachers from the New Ballet Ensemble & School to teach dance classes at LaRose Elementary and Booker T. Washington Middle School. Conducted once a week for 10 weeks each semester, these sessions cover a diverse range of dance styles, including Jookin (a Memphis-style of hip hop), street dance, West-African, tap, modern, Flamenco, and Afro Cuban/Caribbean.
Beyond the 10-week dance classes each semester, the YDP partners with New Ballet Ensemble & School to create special events and field trips for the kids. For example, the DEAEF funded part of the program to take students to see a performance by New Ballet Ensemble & School. Students not only attended the show, but they were also treated to a pizza party and a masterclass.
“The kids live for these kinds of events,” said Golden. “Some of these kids only go as far as they can walk, so they have only gone to school or a local store. Coming to see a show was life-changing for them. It was so incredible to see such joy on their faces.”
Another highlight was the "family night" at the historic Overton Park Shell, where the dance company hosted free classes in the outdoor performance space. Families attended, took dance classes, enjoyed food trucks, and reveled in camaraderie. Additionally, students from one Memphis school embarked on a field trip sponsored by the DEAEF to The Orpheum Theatre, where they witnessed the Lil Buck tour and indulged in a pizza party.
“Since the beginning of our work together, New Ballet Ensemble has been an exceptional partner with the DEAEF both in our goals to bring exceptional programming to students, and in doing everything possible to make each and every situation a success,” said Jodi Obeid, DEAEF YDP Regional Director. “They bring such a solid, well rounded dance education to students and go above and beyond to offer additional opportunities for the DEA Youth Dance Program students to perform, learn, and grow in self-confidence, and teamwork.”
Golden agrees, noting, “Not all of the students want to be dancers, but they do want to be somewhere safe and have the opportunity to hope and dream. We are so grateful that the DEAEF YDP helps to make that happen in our community.”
In the heart of Memphis, the DEAEF Youth Dance Program, in partnership with the New Ballet Ensemble & School, is making a positive impact. Beyond dance classes, the collaboration extends to special events and transformative experiences, enriching the lives of young minds in the community. Through practical efforts and dedication, the DEAEF YDP and its collaborators are contributing to positive change and fostering a bright future for the residents of Memphis.
Updated Jan 14, 2024