Ballet West’s Education and Outreach programs changing thousands of lives
Ballet West’s Education and Outreach programs are the most expansive of any ballet company in the United States, serving more than 110,000 students, teachers and community members last year alone. For two decades, one of these initiatives, Inspiring Children About Not Dropping Out (I CAN DO), has helped tens of thousands of students find focus and direction by teaching them dance at elementary schools across the state. On September 19, Ballet West celebrates the community involvement, positive impact and the lives changed through this poignant program at a luncheon at the Hilton City Center.
“Of all the compelling programs Ballet West executes, I CAN DO is one of the most impressive,” said Peter Christie, education and outreach director. “Starting in the fall, our teachers enter 5th grade classrooms once a week to teach kids the basics of dance. Most of these schools are Title I, and many students are considered ‘at-risk.’ Over the following seven months, using the principles of ballet, instructors mentor these children both emotionally and physically.”
Christie has dozens of letters on his desk that are filled with praise from parents for the program and report significant growth in focus, self-esteem and respect. Last year, I CAN DO was administered in 39 schools with 592 teachers, reaching 9,566 students.
Recently, Isabell Mancera, a graduate of I CAN DO, said, “This program allowed me to realize that nothing is impossible—I can accomplish anything.”
At the end of the school year, the students come together and ‘graduate’ from the program by presenting a performance to their families and friends.
“These performances are the highlight of my year,” said Christie. “You see these kids move with purpose, coordination and supporting one another. The friendships, camaraderie and respect will last for years.”
Ballet West invites the public to the I CAN DO luncheon to learn more about the legacy and future of this program at Hilton City Center on Wednesday, September 19 from 11:30 a.m. – 1 p.m. Sponsorships and tables are still available.
For more information, visit www.balletwest.org/events/i-can-do-luncheon.
Graphic courtesy of Ballet West, featuring a photo by Beau Pearson.