“Ballet, in my opinion, is the epitome of elegance and grace,” says Lisa T. Ross, the St. Mary’s Academy Development/Student Affairs Director, who has spearheaded many events geared to broaden the horizons of many of our young girls in the city; helping them develop an appreciation for culture and the arts.
That’s why on November 14th, she is hoping that young women and girls come out to the first annual Tutu-Much Brunch that will take place at the Ritz Carlton New Orleans at noon. The event, produced by A Stroke of Luxe, LLC, will include a ballet-inspired fashion show sponsored and produced by New Orleans Fashion Week, featuring local dancers as models.
And as a special highlight, internationally acclaimed Ailey II (Alvin Ailey Dance Company) dancer and New Orleans native, Courtney Ross, along with TaKiyah Wallace and Brittani Marie, founders of Brown Girls Do Ballet, will take part in a Q & A discussion.
“Studies have shown that participation in the arts promotes self-esteem, motivation, aesthetic awareness, creativity and appreciation for diversity,” Lisa T. Ross says.
And says Ross, “We are truly honored and excited to have the support and participation of women who are living their dreams and inspiring others to preserve in spite of the odds.” Lisa T. Ross says. “Our guests will experience elegance at its finest and walk away feeling inspired, refreshed and empowered.”
According to Ross, she reached out to Courtney Ross (no relation) through the ballerina’s mother.
“Lisa and I graduated from St. Mary’s Academy and while I haven’t seen her in years, but I followed her on Facebook. It was on Facebook that I realized her daughter Courtney, was now dancing professionally with Ailey II. My request was answered with an enthusiastic, ‘Yes!’” says Ross.
On the heels of Misty Copeland becoming the first African-American woman to be promoted to the position of principal dancer in the American Ballet Theater’s 75-year history, Courtney Ross was more than willing to come home to continue to not only heighten the visibility of ballerinas of color, but to serve as an example of success that local girls can directly identity with.
“It has always been extremely important for me to return home, not only to get my remedy for homesickness but also to continue to inspire young people in my community,” Courtney Ross told The Louisiana Weekly.
“I believe that returning home and sharing my experiences with younger generations is essential to their development and success. When coming from a community that does not always get outstanding representation in the media, it is important to return so that young people will have something tangible to look up to,” she adds. It reassures young people that it is possible for someone just like them to accomplish anything they can dream up.”
Ross began her formal dance training with the NORD/NOBA (New Orleans Ballet Association) Center for Dance and graduated from (NOCCA) and Lusher Charter School, where she earned a Certificate of Artistry in Dance. She has performed works by choreographers Robert Battle, Hope Boykin, Jennifer Archibald, and Dwight Rhoden; and has worked with Hector Mercado and Debbie Allen. In 2013, Ross performed in Alvin Ailey’s Memoria during Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater’s New York City Center season. She recently graduated with honors from the Ailey/Fordham BFA Program in Dance. This is her second season with Ailey II.
Brown Girls Do Ballet is the nationally recognized philanthropic organization that is dedicated to the promotion of diversity in ballet programs through media platforms, training resources and an exclusive network in the world of ballet.
Tutu-Much Brunch tickets are $100.
This article originally published in the November 2, 2015 print edition of The Louisiana Weekly newspaper.