Memphis ballet company streams performance to Ground Zero - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Memphis ballet company streams performance to Ground Zero

(WMC-TV) - A unique Memphis ballet company paid tribute to the victims of 9-11 Monday with a performance meant for Ground Zero that was broadcast online.

Dancers with the New Ballet Ensemble of Memphis performed at the National Civil Rights Museum, streaming it to Ground Zero. The dance was part of a world symposium on tearing down racial and economic barriers in the wake of 9/11 - something New Ballet founder Katie Smythe has been doing for more than a decade with children.

"Why do you segregate? Well part of that is people's ability to pay and presumptions about access - who has access to what.  And it seemed to be drawn along racial and socioeconomic lines," she said.

So Smythe placed her ballet studio in the Cooper Young community, bordering neighborhoods both racially and economically diverse, and invited everyone.

"What we do is establish a residency in a neighborhood community or school, and get to know the children, and fast track them into the culture of dance," she said.

It's a culture that not only includes ballet, but hip hop, African, and flamenco.  

"We have to do it with a deep understanding of one another and a lot of trust, that we can feel awkward outside of where we feel comfortable and it's safe to feel awkward at something that doesn't come naturally to us, or where we have expertise," she said.

Professional dancers like Jayme Stokes love the challenge.

"I love the diversity of the type of work that we do every day," Stokes said. "We come from different walks of life and we're all unified under something that we love to do – to dance."

If you missed the New Ballet Ensemble's performance Monday, a free performance is scheduled Tuesday at the studio.  To learn more, click here:

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