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Home > About > News and Events > News > Member News > New Ballet Ensemble and School Training the “Baryshinkovs of Jookin”

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New Ballet Ensemble and School Training the “Baryshinkovs of Jookin”

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Nov 16, 2012
Memphis, TN

Memphis-based New Ballet Ensemble and School’s mission to engage children from all backgrounds through high quality ballet training with an emphasis on multiculturalism took center stage in the November New York Times article, “ The Baryshinkovs of Jookin” (11/18/12). The article describes how founder and executive director Katie Smythe has engaged youth, specializing in the local form of virtuoso hip-hop footwork known as jookin, in ballet lessons as a way to gain strength and expand range. It also describes how the introduction of multiple dance styles throughout the school’s programs has enriched the quality and experience of dance for all students. In jookin, dancers go onto tiptoe (in sneakers) and ripple their arms with the hip-hop currents and isolations that are a modern counterpart to a ballerina’s swan-arm undulations. Seeing the connections, Smythe began creating opportunities for her dancers to perform jookin to classical music in public. One of these dancers is now the well-known star Lil Buck, whose recorded jookin performance to the cello “Swan” music from Saint-Saëns’s suite “The Carnival of the Animals” went viral on YouTube in 2006. That video led to his discovery by Damian Woetzel, a former City Ballet principal who now serves on the President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities and is artistic director of the Vail International Dance Festival.

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About New Ballet Ensemble and School
Founded in 2001, The New Ballet Ensemble and School is a Community School of the Arts and Arts Education program with a professional performing ensemble. Unique to Memphis and to communities across America, New Ballet is a bridge-building Arts training organization that serves youth from every corner of the city and in its entirety.  Children and adults come together on a daily basis in an arts space where the common denominator is excellence and innovation in dance. The bridges that we build in the process remain a principle focus of the organization’s leadership.

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