About Us

Founded in 2001, New Ballet Ensemble and School is a Community School of the Arts with a thriving after school dance program in the heart of Midtown Memphis, (Cooper Young) Children from all over the Mid South fill our studios six days a week, training, rehearsing and exploring varied forms of movement and dance alongside a strong classical ballet curriculum. We serve Mid South schools with in school residencies lasting from one day to the entire year and invest in active community partnerships, reaching audiences of all ages where they are. 

New Ballet Ensemble was awarded the National Arts and Humanities Youth Program Award in 2014, recognizing the country’s best creative youth development programs for using engagement in the arts and the humanities to increase academic achievement, graduation rates, and college enrollment. Read more.

New Ballet was one of three organizations nationwide commissioned by the Kennedy Center to perform in NEW MOVES: symphony + dance with the National Symphony Orchestra (May 2014). The performance received rave reviews from The Washington Post -

"The single dance number that ended the evening was simply dazzling, eliciting an audience response that dwarfed all that had gone before. 'Harlem', by Katie Smythe, was set to a score of Ellington in a new genre called 'Memphis Jookin', whose vocabulary is a dizzying mishmash of Cab Calloway, Alvin Ailey and hip hop. The nine dances shimmied, levitated and jolted their way through eye-popping solos and ensemble work, bringing a cheering crowd to its feet."  Read more in the Washington Post.

Excellence Under one big tent -  And all together - NBE's locations provide extraordinary accessibility for experiential learning and practical experience.

Since 2006, our studios have been located in the resurgent Cooper Young neighborhood , only blocks from Overton Square and near theaters, shops restaurants,  a short distance from our school residency programs in Orange Mound and Binghampton. Students from North Mississippi are only fifteen minutes from the front door of NBE!

Our innovative approach to learning equips our students with leading-edge knowledge and expertise.

Children and adults from vastly diverse economic and cultural backgrounds come together on a daily basis in studio spaces where the common denominators are excellence and innovation. Training is intensive, specific and targeted to college admission. Dance is made relevant as the youth contribute their own creative ideas, working collaboratively with artistic leadership to build our unique aesthetic. The bridges built in the process remain a principle value of the organization.

Our forward-thinking Teaching and Performing Artists make true community based learning possible. Active and engaged students play an integral role while developing leadership skills through community service, peer mentoring and classroom assistance.

New Ballet prepares the next generation of leaders to successfully face real-world challenges in a diversity of careers. In only 12 years, we have educated leaders and innovators in the world of dance , as well as educated our own Teaching Artists to lead us into the future, but that's not all. Our graduates have earned doctoral degrees in International Relations and languages, masters and business degrees in fashion and journalism and jobs on Broadway as both choreographers and performers.

School Residencies -

NBE is currently in residence throughout the year in Dunbar Elementary and Lester Community Center where daily classes are taught in Ballet and Hip Hop with Master classes in African and Flamenco. Students in these programs perform in Family Night at the Levitt Shell. 

Week and day long residencies are offered through our Arts Education program and inculde Ballet, Hip Hop, Modern, Flamenco and Tap classes. Other programs include Arts Infusion with core subjects (math, science, reading and social studies).

Performance contributes vitality to local culture - Training for young aspirational dancers

New Ballet School students perform consistently throughout the year both in large scale bi-annual productions and at cultural institutions such as the Brooks Muesum, in Shelby County schools and for community service projects at organizations such as Bridges USA 

Performance training readies students for college level programs and auditions by providing a platform for real world experience. Exposure to multi-cultural dance and different dance genres contributes to the students' versatility, promoting college readiness.  NBE participants are as at home in an elementary school classroom as the opera house or symphony hall. A versatile corps of students will perform this season with Opera Memphis at the Midtown Opera Festival and with the Memphis Symphony Orchestra in Memphis Renaissance at the Levitt Shell.

College guidance and Workforce development -

NBE has placed graduates at Columbia University, NYU TIsch School of the Arts, TCU, SMU, Boston Conservatory, Marymount Manhattan, the Universities of South Carolina and Georgia, Baylor and Butler Universities. Graduates are eligible for our Professonal Trainee Program, earning weekly stipends as they attend local colleges.

Alumni (SAMI)

The Student Alumni Mentoring Initiative brings NBE graduates together with NBE students grades 9 - 12 over the summer for ACT and SAT preparation, college tours, subject tutoring and college advising. In the summer of 2015, students will begin research on colleges with our alumni who are currently attending Vanderbilt University (Human Development and the Arts), University of California at Berkeley (Sciences) and Southern Methodist University (Dance).

ArtsMemphis Community DanceSpace

Opened to accommodate grass roots performing groups needing access to a safe and professional rehearsal enviroronment, this space has been home to Out Loud Artistry (OLA), Sub Culture Royalty, Bantaba African Company, a rehearsal space for Hattiloo Theater, the Grizzlies Dance Team and Women's Theater Fesitval of Memphis and the Memphis Breakers. the Links of Shelby County rehearse here for the Christmas debutante ball and NBE students work on independent community engagement and school projects. For more information, please contact kathy [at] newballet [dot] org.

Dunbar Elementary Family Resource Center

Developed in the spring of 2015 in partnership with Arts Memphis and "Engagement Transforms Communities", the FRC will open in the fall of 2015 in our partner school, Dunbar Elementary. The center will provide access to services and training through NBE partner organizations. Parents and grandparents will be actively engaged in sessions planned with their input and collaboration. These include homework support for their children, access to computers, financial literacy programs for children and parents as well as child care and children's dance classes to take place during evening seminars.

Philosophy - Rigor, Excellence, Mentoring, Peer Support

Sound technical ballet training with an emphasis on multiculturalism -

New Ballet students' goals cover a broad spectrum. It is a desire to be immersed in an atmosphere of professionalism, creative expression and serious intent in order to become a citizen of the world that binds youth with a diversity of interests. The years spent at New Ballet amount to a career during the school years that pays benefits throughout participants lives in various chosen professions.

In addition to Ballet, students will explore Modern dance, Tap, African dance, Flamenco, Hip Hop, and Chinese dance throughout their studies at New Ballet. They will find support for homework help, college counseling and ACT and SAT testing before and after classes and rehearsals.

It is our hope that the young Memphis artists who grow up at New Ballet and who so desire, will return to the Memphis community to share their knowledge, talent and love of dance, becoming teachers and performers and nurturing those who follow.

Core Values

  • Professional Integrity: operating at a high standard in all things.
  • Personal growth: building strong character in our student dancers.
  • Innovative Teaching: focusing on each child’s unique, optimum capabilities.
  • Community Building: bridging our cultural differences through dance.
  • Partnerships: working collaboratively to achieve our goals.
  • Community Engagement: taking dance to schools as a means to educate, discover and recruit talented young performers.