Ballet School in Memphis Receives White House Honor

The First Lady with NBE student Briana Brown and NBE director Katie Smythe

First Lady Michelle Obama honored New Ballet Ensemble & School of Memphis, Tennessee, with a National Arts and Humanities Youth Program Award. Thirty-seven percent of NBE’s students receive need-based scholarships to study ballet, modern, tap, African, flamenco, hip hop and Chinese dance. Jookin’ star Charles “Lil Buck” Riley was a scholarship student there for two years.

The White House recognized the organization for bringing together students of different racial and socioeconomic backgrounds to find academic success and leadership skills via dance. The honor includes a $10,000 award.

NBE was one of 12 after-school groups (out of more than 350 nominations) honored by the White House. “You teach kids more than just skills in the arts,” the First Lady told them during a ceremony at the White House. “You light a fire in them. You give kids a spring in their step when they get up in the morning.”

 

Photo by Steven E. Purcell, courtesy of the White House

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