Around Town

Spotlight: New Orleans Ballet Association

Since 1992 the New Orleans Ballet Association (NOBA) has been dedicated to expanding the art of dance beyond the community it serves to the world stage. NOBA has continuously responded to the city’s increasing need for a meaningful dance outlet in its underserved areas, even during the COVID-19 pandemic. In fact, over 36,000 people have attended NOBA’s in-person and online dance programs since March 2020. Today, the New Orleans Ballet Association offers more than 100 tuition-free classes and activities every week, and it has proven itself to be a unique organization that demonstrates choreography as a true art.

“We started in 1969 as a totally different organization until we became the unique model we are today–a dance program with free training that produces and performs work professionally and recreationally,” says executive director Jenny Hamilton. NOBA offers all-day summer camps, pre-professional youth programs, and wellness programs along with productions of their mainstage series, and it has trained 2,000 students ages four and up in the 2021-2022 season. Hamilton notes that their youth programs are particularly huge. Not only are they huge, but the classes are also free. In fact, 2022 marks the thirtieth year NOBA has offered completely tuition-free dance classes in partnership with the New Orleans Recreation Development Commission, which is a major factor in their programs’ success. Children as young as four years old can enroll and receive free training in ballet, modern jazz, and hip hop up to the age of 18. Students ages 8-18 can also audition for the pre-professional program, which involves 30 hours of intensive training per week and the Master Artist Series that allows the dancers to learn from an amazing faculty of world-renowned dancers. Young dancers can audition for the summer intensive programs, too, in which they will learn from amazing artists from the American Ballet Theater. “Outside of our programs, we ensure dancers have the skills they need to perform professionally or successfully audition for college programs,” Hamilton says.

However, the lessons are not limited to children and young adults. Anybody ages 14 and up can register for drop-in classes on ballet techniques, and adults can join open community classes too–all completely free of charge. The New Orleans Ballet Association also offers two healing arts programs: the Senior Dance Fitness program and the Oscar J. Tolmas Charitable Trust Dance for Parkinson’s Program. The Parkinson’s Program has virtual and online classes that promote creative movement in those with Parkinson’s Disease, even those who struggle with mobility. So, no matter your age or skill level, NOBA has a program for all types of dancers and their abilities, and it won’t cost a dime.

NOBA also has stunning mainstage performances every season that dancers and non-dancers alike will not want to miss. You can check out one of their mainstage performances–Don Quixote– on May 14th and 15th at the Mahalia Jackson Theater. Other performances later this year include The Nutcracker Suite and the Spring and Summer Concerts. Tickets are available at

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