New Ballet Ensemble Takes Memphis Dance Style To Washington

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(Memphis) The New Ballet Dance Ensemble returned to Memphis from Washington, D.C., after a larger-than-life performance.

The group was asked to dance at the Kennedy Center for their unique style, which was born in the Bluff City.

The dance ensemble came home dancing to the beat of their own drum.

"We just arrived from Washington, D.C.," Katie Smyth, CEO and Artistic Director of New Ballet Ensemble and School, said.

Smyth and her group of talented dancers were invited among  dance companies in New York City to show off their moves at the Kennedy Center.

"They chose three companies that they believe are on the cutting edge, innovating artistically," Smyth said.

Being innovative is what this group does best.

They are known for moving their bodies to different dance styles that would not typically match.

"Most specifically ballet, contemporary dance, flamenco, and our curriculum jookin is definitely a part of our artistic product," Smyth explained.

Jookin is a dance style brought to life on the streets of Memphis.

Now, the dance style -- involving intensive footwork -- is reaching a world stage.

New Ballet Ensemble graduate Charles "Lil Buck" Riley, who now works as a professional dancer in New York, just did an interview on CBS This Morning about the unique style.

"Jookin' is such a freestyle-based dance that, you know, it's all really influenced by your imagination," Riley said in the CBS This Morning interview.

The New Ballet Ensemble took that imagination and ran with it throughout Washington, D.C.

They did their dance from the U.S. Capitol to the subway stations in the city.

The group can also be seen in a video teaching a woman some moves.

From the streets... to the stage... to in our hearts.

The dancers are not only defying gravity, they are beating the odds.

"That first show we did on Saturday I kind of broke down -- like it came from out of nowhere," Shamar Rooks said.

The Washington Post published a review of the performance -- calling it "dazzling."


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