Local Students Accepted to Elite National Dance Programs

June 21
2:14 PM 2010

The NORD/NOBA Center For Dance, a cultural community partnership between the New Orleans Recreation Department (NORD) and the New Orleans Ballet Association (NOBA), has awarded five local dance students, ages 11-18, scholarships to train this summer at prestigious dance programs around the country. Every year, NORD/NOBA Center For Dance, through funds raised by the Men and Women of Fashion's Prix d'Elegance Luncheon and the Ballet Resource And Volunteer Organization (BRAVO), provides scholarships for talented students in the NORD/NOBA Center For Dance Pre-Professional Program to continue their studies through advanced training during the summer at national programs.

2010 Scholarship Recipients
Destiny Billot, 11, Westbank - American Ballet Theatre (ABT)
Amanda Bonds, 16, Orleans - Dallas Black Dance Theater
Zuzanna Mrozek, 18, Orleans - American Dance Festival (ADF)
Courtney Ross, 17, Westbank - Alvin Ailey - Senior Program
Raven Ross, 16, Orleans - San Francisco Conservatory

In order to apply for a scholarship, dancers must have an exceptional level of performance quality and artistic interpretation. Eligibility for these scholarships is based on students' demonstrated talent, technical skill, determination and drive, as well as attendance records, teacher recommendations, and personal essay submissions. In addition to performance requirements at locAl Nord/NOBA Center For Dance events throughout the year, recipients are expected to keep a daily journal of their summer dance experiences to submit at the end of their training.

Two of this year's recipients, Zuzana Mrozek and Courtney Ross, are graduating seniors from Lusher Charter High School who have been training since 2003 with the Center For Dance. Through the CFD, Mrozek and Ross have taken master classes and attended summer intensives with professional dancers from around the world. They have also performed with the NORD/NOBA Center For Dance Company in three national tours, including performances at Jacob's Pillow Dance Festival (MA) in 2007, the Kennedy Center in Washington D.C in 2008, and the 2009 Piccolo Spoleto Festival in Charleston, SC.

Ross has taken master classes and attended summer intensives with professional companies for the past six years, including Debbie Allen, Urban Ballet Theater, and Alonzo King's LINES Ballet. "Being accepted to the Alvin Ailey School Pre-Professional Summer Intensive for the summer is such a great honor, and being able to study there will aid me in tapping into my full potential as a versatile dancer," said Ross. She will begin this fall as a freshman at the highly competitive Ailey/Fordham Bachelor of Fine Arts program at Fordham University at Lincoln Center.

This summer marks Mrozek's third summer at American Dance Festival. "Going to ADF is a renewal of my love of dance every time I go," said Mrozek. "By being embedded in a community of dance, I get an in depth look into their creative process and use it to enrich my own." This fall, she will attend Ohio State University as a dance major.

In addition to the scholarship winners, students from the NORD/NOBA Center For Dance have been accepted this year to many other elite national dance programs, including Joffrey Ballet, Royal Winnipeg Ballet, USA International Ballet Competition Workshops, Bolshoi Ballet, and Atlanta Ballet Summer Intensive.

Since its inception in 1992, the NORD/NOBA Center For Dance program has continuously garnered national attention and awards. This recognition has steadily increased since Hurricane Katrina, when the free dance program was one of the first community activities back in action. Originally founded with seed money from the Freeport-McMoran Foundation, The Center was born out of a need to make dance accessible to all school aged children. A program that began with just 30 students at one NORD Center now reaches 300 students per semester at 6 sites citywide. With a core curriculum of ballet, classes are open to any child in Orleans Parish with a demonstrated interest in dance. Through a professional faculty, master classes by NOBA Main Stage artists and other visiting artists, a mentor program and field trips, the Center works with each child to cultivate dreams and strengthen futures. The Center is the recipient of 2002 Coming Up Taller Award, nominated for the Big Easy Classical Arts Award for best dance performance, and has received national grants through the NEA and the National Guild of Community Schools for the Arts.
NOBA is the Central Gulf region's premiere presenting and service organization dedicated solely to the art of dance. NOBA's dynamic Main Stage season annually features a diverse array of world-class companies and artists. Each year NOBA provides concerts, classes, workshops and lectures to more than 25,000 area dance enthusiasts of all ages. In addition, NOBA's nationally recognized award-winning education programs provide the youth of our community access to quality arts programs with 2,500 activities annually through performances, classes, and workshops, more than 90% of which are free. The NOBA programs are a recipient of the 2005 Louisiana Governor's Arts Award, and 2005 Big Easy Classical Arts Award.

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