MoBBallet (standing for “Memoirs of Blacks in Ballet”) is an organization that strives to preserve, present and promote the contributions and stories of black artists in the field of ballet, through archival material and mini-documentaries that can be found in one online location. Theresa Ruth Howard, who performed with Dance Theatre of Harlem, Donald Byrd/The Group, Armitage Gone! Dance and Complexions Contemporary Ballet, founded MoBBallet in 2015, with the hope of compiling the histories of black artists, as well as supporting and aiding emerging generations of black ballet dancers.
This October 11-13, MoBBallet will hold its first annual dance education symposium, “Inspiration, Education, Perspiration”, in Philadelphia, PA. Hosted by Pennsylvania Ballet, the three-day symposium will focus on personal and professional development, education and mentorship for intermediate to pre-professional level black ballet students. The event will act as a conduit between students, professional dancers, educators, choreographers and artistic directors.
According to Howard, MoBBallet’s symposium is meant to “identify and track young talent, provide supplemental coaching, counseling and preparation for professional placement, and job opportunities, while helping to fortify the local studios that feed the pre-professional training pipeline.”
The symposium will include three distinct courses. The Ballet Course will connect intermediate to pre-professional level students with an elite group of ballet teachers and directors from across the country. Teachers and directors will provide students with individualized coaching, feedback and mentorship in the areas of dance training, physical therapy, body image, continuing education opportunities and auditioning.
The Dance Educators Course will be led by directors and master teachers from professional ballet schools and is a teachers’ workshop that will provide pedagogical support to small studio owners and teachers. Participants and facilitators will address technical and administrative impediments that are inherent in small programs.
Finally, The Open Class Course will be open to the greater Philadelphia dance community, with classes from the symposium’s elite faculty.
So far, faculty and mentors will include Lauren Anderson, Patrick Armand, Debra Austin, Maurice Brandon Curry, Erica Edwards, Kiyon Ross, Jermel Johnson, Kareen Pauld Camargo, Robert Garland, Meredith Rainey, Maggie Small, Marion Tonner, Margaret Tracy and more to be announced.
Scheduled workshops include The History of Blacks in Ballet, Pointe Shoe: Fitting and Doctoring, Social Media: Understanding Positive and Negative Influence, Physical Therapy and more.
MoBBallet’s ‘Inspiration, Education, Perspiration’ symposium will be held the weekend of October 11-13, in Philadelphia, Pa. For more information, visit mobballet.org.