Grantee Stories


Meet the Grantees: Ballet Memphis

Ballet Memphis

Ballet Memphis operates from it’s new headquarters in Overton Square, Memphis’ lively hub for the arts, utilizing dance as a tool for civic progress.

The company is recognized as the most diverse professional company in America. It is comprised of more than 60% dancers of color, and represents cities from all over the world. Ballet Memphis is dedicated to access and inclusion within their own professional company, which has drawn positive attention on a national scale.

Ballet Memphis’ 30-year legacy is reflective of the community and people it serves. The organization is a proud participant in the Equity Project: Increasing the Presence of Blacks in Ballet, led by the Dance Theatre of Harlem, the International Association of Blacks in Dance, and Dance/USA. The Equity Project educates dance companies about the intersection of history and ballet, broader systems of power and privilege, and delivers tools needed to affect change withing organizations and across the art-form of ballet as a whole.

Ballet Memphis received an ArtsMemphis Enhancement Grant in 2018 to launch the New American Dance Residency in Spring 2019. The New American Dance Residency is aimed at dance-makers who were interested in exploring the intersection of art and community with the aim of training and mentoring on the power of creating thematic, research-based work.

The four talented dance-makers who were accepted into the residency program spent two weeks exploring the richness of Memphis and exhibited their findings in a public presentation of dance creations. The program imparted the importance of thoughtful, well-researched work that is reflective of our city to each of the residents as well as the young dancers watching and dancing alongside them. 

ArtsMemphis Enhancement Grants are intended to help organizations build long-term capacity, increase long-term earned income streams which will help move the organization to the next level, as well as fund venture capital/risk-taking initiatives which create a positive return on investment and broad community impact.

Ballet Memphis places the utmost importance on producing works, recruiting dancers, and maintaining the art form of dance reflective of our city. In addition to the professional company, Ballet Memphis currently has 300 students from age 3 to 18. The classes, workshops, camps, and intensives encourage collaboration and embrace differences between the students.

The educational component of Ballet Memphis extends to dancers outside of their ballet school through outreach to students in the 38106 and 38126 zip codes. The after-school program in partnership with Knowledge Quest culminates with an end of year student performance. Several students from this program have chosen to continue their training and become students at Ballet Memphis.

Meet the Grantees:
ArtsMemphis supports more than 70 arts organizations and artist through 164 grants totaling $2.5 million each year.  Get to know your arts organizations – they shape our city’s modern character, build on our city’s cultural vitality and strengthen our local community.
Posted by Colleen McCartney at 2:00 PM

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