The New Orleans Ballet Association: Providing Free Access to the Art of Ballet | WGNO

NEW ORLEANS, LOUISIANA– Art is the very expression of what comprises the soul of every human being.  Despite that fact, the art of ballet has not always been a friend to diversity.

On March 7th, 1917 a seamstress and a tailor in New Orleans smiled upon their new baby girl.  Janet Collins would become the first black prima ballerina to dance as part of New York’s prestigious Metropolitan Opera House.  Janet, among others, was opening the door for little black girls with rhythm and a pair of pointe shoes.

For 50 years, the New Orleans Ballet Association or NOBA has offered the art of ballet.  In tandem with the New Orleans Recreation Department (NORD), they provide free classes to students that might not have had access otherwise.  NOBA’s effort of diversifying ballet and providing access is part of a larger effort across the world.  In 1997, the New York Times conducted a survey of ten major ballet companies and found less than five percent of the dancers were black.
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