Montgomery Ballet's STEP Program halted after loss in funding

Posted by: Melissa Johnson - bio | email

Montgomery, AL (WSFA) - A disappointing loss in Montgomery's arts community.

The Montgomery Ballet, in partnership with the STEP Foundation has provided free ballet classes to at-risk children for more than 11 years, but because of recent budget cuts, that program is coming to a close.

Montgomery Ballet Artistic Director Elie Lazar says the loss is extremely sad.

He said, "The component of reaching into those children's' lives and their parents is priceless."

Priceless, because the program took kids off the streets and put them in a positive environment.

Lazar said, "It's giving them a totally different perspective about life and an opportunity to dream and see their future possibilities, not just what is in front of them."

This gym at LAMP High School, where they used to practice, was transformed into a makeshift ballet studio 11 years ago, complete with wall mirrors and these ballet barres.

But those involved say the big change is really in the lives of the students in the program.

Kyana Neller, a dancer for the Montgomery Ballet, taught those students over the past two years.

She said, "To see the glow in the girls face when they walk into the studio is wonderful.  They just love to dance, and they would never have an opportunity to experience the arts without this."

Neller says the students gained more than just dance instruction.  She said, "We provide not only ballet training, but discipline, grace, poise, and we teach how you're supposed to respect yourself and the adults around you."

That's why organizers say it would be a shame to see it all come to an end.

The Montgomery Ballet is now looking for sponsors for the program.  They would like to work with or partner with a local business in town.

If you would like to help, call the Montgomery Ballet at 409-0522.

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