Photo by Jeff Strout

I Keep Moving Because… 

Since March 13, NOBA’s remote virtual dance and dance fitness/wellness programming has reached 8,375+ participants ages 3-98 in five countries. NOBA’s incredible education team and teaching artists have adapted their curriculums to continue providing tuition-free classes for the Preparatory and Pre-Professional programs for youth, the Senior Dance Fitness program, the Dance for Parkinson’s program, the Freedom of Movement program for veterans, and various dance and arts healing classes and activities.

All featured photographs and stories below are part of NOBA’s ‘I Keep Moving Because…’ initiative. This summer, NOBA photographer Jeff Strout visited a handful of NOBA participants to safely capture their joy of movement. The participants and their families shared what keeps them motivated to move and how NOBA positively impacts their lives. Please consider a gift today to help us keep our participants moving.

Photo by Jeff Strout

MADYSON HARRIS (Age: 10)

Questions and answers from Madyson:

Why did you start taking ballet?
I started taking ballet because I knew it was something that interests me. It also gave me strength and made me feel free.
 
What’s your favorite part of participating in NOBA classes/programs?
My favorite part of participating in the NOBA program is the performances. I love being up on stage in front of a huge audience, and I’m not afraid to show them my best. I also love learning new techniques and perfecting the old ones.
 
Questions and answers from Madyson’s mother, Kimberly Egana:

What experiences and life skills has your child gained as a result of being part of NOBA’s programs?
NOBA’s program has given my child many experiences and discipline. It has given her the confidence needed to perform in front of large crowds and not be shy. It has also taught her commitment and the importance of being committed to attending every class. The after school program gives her an outlet ,balance, and an escape from everyday life.
 
What do you love most about NOBA’s tuition-free programs?
I love most that NOBA’s tuition free program affords all kids equal opportunities from every facet of life to learn and experience different types of dance, simply because some families cannot afford private dance schools.


Photo by Jeff Strout

SCARLETT MITCHELL-YANG (Age: 17)

Questions and answers from Scarlett:

You achieved a huge goal by being admitted to the LINES program. How did achieving that dream make you feel? What was your biggest takeaway from the program?
Going to LINES was an absolutely amazing experience. It expanded my perspective of how particular the art form is to each dancer, yet how encompassing and connecting it is for great amounts of people, even for those who have never met before. The program encouraged everyone to find that internal, spiritual reason why you move and then to use it to empathize with your environment, choreography, and peers. Being invited to the program was unexpected and exhilarating, but my time spent there was especially special, as it allowed me to see just how far I've come as a dancer, and how far I have to go.
 
Every dancer’s body is different. How do you care for yours?
Recently, I came to the realization that my balance between expending physical and mental energy and recovering it was extremely off, and that I was wearing myself down because of it. I've been taking time to find that balance, and have found sleep is incredibly important for being productive in class. I've also discovered that taking the time outside of rehearsal to train and strengthen your body so that it's easier to fall into your technique and keep yourself safe during choreography.
 
You’ve been able to study with so many amazing artists and choreographers. Is there a special moment with an artist that really stands out?
I've had countless amazing moments with visiting artists -- for instance, working with Jae Man Joo on multiple occasions was incredible. I'm privileged to have the experience of being a part of his choreography, as he's choreographed some of my favorite pieces I've seen to-date. Having class with Daniel Ulbricht was also amazing, especially because he was one of the first performers I saw on the Mahalia Jackson Theater stage, and I immediately admired his presence while performing. There are so many special moments that I've had with the performers that NOBA brings in, that it's hard to highlight a select few, but I also want to say that the experience I've had with Dance Theatre of Harlem, Complexions Contemporary Ballet, and Ballet Hispánico were life-changing for me as a performer, artist, and person. I'm so lucky to have danced with them, and grateful to have those memories on which to look back.
 
What advice do you have for other young dancers?
Look for the reasons why you dance. With any skill, there are a lot of steps to take to improve upon the talent. A lot of improvement is technical, and a lot of things that are “technical” can be boring, hard, or both! But, if you can figure out the why, it's easier to see how important tedious parts of class are designed to make movement easier for you -- and it becomes easier and quicker to apply the corrections to yourself.
 
I keep moving because…
It brings me levity and joy that I can't find anywhere else, and gives me a chance to breathe.



Photo by Jeff Strout

CAILEY LEWIS (Age: 9)

Question and answer from Cailey:

Why do you love to dance?
I love to dance because it makes me feel like I can do anything.


Questions and answers from Carla, Cailey’s mom:

What would it mean to your child and your family if NOBA was no longer able to provide its programs?
Tuition free programs are absolutely essential for those on a fixed income. Both of us are. And they are in the communities where there aren't as many options for exercise opportunities, free of charge under the direction of qualified people.


What would it mean to your child and your family if NOBA was no longer able to provide its programs?
If NOBA was no longer to provide dance classes, Cailey would not dance. Cailey loves NOBA and the instructors. She doesn’t want to go anywhere else.


Photo by Jeff Strout

KENNEDY SIMON (Age: 15)

Questions and answers from Kennedy:

You’ve been able to study with so many amazing artists and choreographers. Is there a special moment that really stands out?
A special moment that really stands out for me is being able to work with Ballet Hispánico and perform at their gala. This experience was truly amazing and was a very rare opportunity that I am very grateful for! Being able to not only travel to New York for the first time, but also performing with an amazing company such as Ballet Hispánico was something I’ll never forget. Every part of this experience was memorable from rehearsals at the Lyons Rec Center to taking class at the Ballet Hispánico studios. This is something not many people ever get to do, especially at such a young age, and I am thankful that NOBA continues to give us amazing opportunities such as this one!


What’s the best part of being a dancer?
The best part of being a dancer is being able to express myself no matter how I’m feeling. Whether I’m having a great day or feeling down, taking class, or even dancing on my own, dance is always a great way to channel my feelings without having to verbalize them.


I keep moving because…
It is my safe space. Even though most of us aren’t able to dance in a studio right now, being able to move through tough times such as these is something I am very grateful for. Instead of looking at this quarantine as something that has stopped me from improving, I have used this time to expand beyond my comfort zone and learn more about myself as an artist.


Questions and answers from Kennedy’s mom, Helaina Simon:

What experiences and life skills has your child gained as a result of being part of NOBA’s programs?
She has learned so much, including the dedication and hard work that it takes to become a successful dancer. She has been given valuable advice and information concerning the dance world and has been given countless opportunities, including training from various master artists and choreographers from around the world, the chance to dance on stage with professional companies and to travel to participate in symposiums and dance at galas, and so many other opportunities, all of which are preparing her for her future as a dancer.  All of this has given her more confidence as a dancer and, I believe, as a person in general.


If you had to make a case to sponsors in support of the continuation of NOBA’s programs, what would you tell them?
Please continue to support NOBA's program.  It is vital to our community. It is so important to so many young dancers that they continue to receive quality dance instruction from the best teachers, artists and choreographers out there. The program gives them the opportunities and experiences that they otherwise may never receive due to the fact that many families would not be able to afford it. This program not only provides awesome instruction but gives them opportunities to attend performances and often times participate in productions, dancing alongside professional dancers, artists who are respected in their field. By the time NOBA students graduate and move on, they already have an impressive resume of work and a network of people in the professional dance world who are familiar with them and know the level of training they received and the type of dancer they are. The experiences provided by this program are second to none.



Photo by Jeff Strout

RENZO COCHRAN (Age: 8)

Questions & answers from Renzo’s mom, Karla Marie Cochran:

What experiences and life skills has your child gained as a result of being part of NOBA’s programs?
Being a boy who wanted to dance ballet made him a bit scared at first. As parents we supported him and encouraged him, but the truly diverse NOBA program is what allowed him to be confident once classes started. Just walking in seeing all the different students and not feeling like he stood out, made a huge difference to him.


What do you love most about NOBA’s tuition-free programs?
I love the diversity and the access to all children. The students truly represent a cross section of our New Orleans community.


What would it mean to your child and your family if NOBA was no longer able to provide its programs?
Our son has developed self-confidence and a connection to a bigger world and the arts through ballet. For him, not having access to these programs would mean a loss of connection to himself, the arts, dance, and our community. For us, it would mean a heavy heart due to our inability to financially support his love of ballet through classes.


Photo by Jeff Strout

MILLIE CHARLES (Age: 96)

Questions and answers from Millie:

How long have you been dancing?
All my life.


Questions and answers from Millie’s daughter, Amen:

What do you and your mom love most about NOBA’s tuition-free programs?
Tuition free programs are absolutely essential for those on a fixed income. Both of us are. And they are in the communities where there aren't as many options for exercise opportunities, free of charge under the direction of qualified people.


What would it mean to you and your mom if NOBA was no longer able to provide its programs?
Right now, the online classes provide the only familiar exercise resource that allows my mother and me a seamless transition to continue moving our bodies in healthy ways at home. This is particularly true now because my mom is no longer ambulatory since December 2019 given a more severe health condition that limited her to staying home prior to the pandemic.



Photo by Jeff Strout

DEAN MILLER (Age: 80) & GRANDDAUGHTER NATALIE TABB (Age: 17)

Questions and answers from Dean:

What would it mean to you and your family if NOBA were no longer able to provide its programs?
It would be a BIG disappointment to my granddaughter and a loss to the community. I would miss the friendly instructors and my fellow Parkinson’s patients who have been brought together by this program.


If you had to make a case to sponsors in support of the continuation of NOBA’s programs, what would you tell them?
Everyone needs art in his/her life. The NOBA education programs provide dance to so many children and adults who would otherwise be missing out on this important art form. And the people at NOBA do everything SO well.


I keep moving because…
If I didn’t keep moving, I would soon lose the ability to move.


Questions and answers from Natalie:

What does it mean to have your grandfather participate in the Dance for Parkinson’s program?
It helps him with his Parkinson’s and keeps him moving. I like how it lets us have something in common with each other.


I keep moving because…
Dancing is my life and I refuse to give it up.


Questions?
Have questions or need assistance with making your donation?


E-mail Francesca at fmartin@nobadance.com or call 504.522.0996 x208