Diversity & Dance: A look inside the Nevada Ballet Theatre - FOX5 Vegas - KVVU

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Diversity & Dance: A look inside the Nevada Ballet Theatre

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Kenneth Shelby Junior, a classicly trained ballet dancer is seen here during a practice. (FOX5) Kenneth Shelby Junior, a classicly trained ballet dancer is seen here during a practice. (FOX5)
LAS VEGAS (FOX5) -

Nevada Ballet Theatre is celebrating its 45th season. NBT, as it’s known, puts on professional productions at The Smith Center for the Performing Arts and also operates a dance academy as well as other education and outreach programs.

NBT is comprised of 35 total dancers: 18 main performers, nine trainees, and eight apprentices. Eight of the dancers are men. There is one African American dancer: Kenneth Shelby Junior.

“There’s a terrible stigma attached to ballet,” NBT Artistic Director Roy Kaiser said, referring to men in ballet. He said the stigma is an American one. “If you look at dancers in other countries, in European countries, not only is it more accepted to be in ballet, they're revered,” Kaiser said.

“There is a lack of diversity, that's true. Unfortunately that's true. A lot of it comes back to youngsters having those role models and having someone to look up to, to inspire them. We're starting to see that in our profession.”

Shelby grew up in Central Florida. “I started dancing at a young age,” he said. Other kids teased Shelby. “I got picked on a lot. I always got picked on. Everywhere that I went, there was a little bit of trauma,” he said.  

His childhood wasn’t an easy one. “We were very low income,” Shelby said. When he was young, he also dealt with his parent’s divorce.

Despite the bullying in school, Shelby continued to dance through high school and college at Indiana University.

“(Shelby) is trained as a classical dancer,” Kaiser said.

Shelby said the challenges he overcame as a child helped shape the man he became.  “Going through all of that made me a much stronger person. I'm actually happy I went through all the pain because I'm enjoying my life now. I also know who I am, where I came from, how to work, and how to treat people,” Shelby said.   

Nevada Ballet Theatre presents Beauty and the Beast at The Smith Center for the Performing Arts, Reynolds Hall on Feb. 17 and 18. Ticket prices range from $29 to $139.

Here are the three performances to choose from:

  • Saturday, Feb. 17, 2018 at 2:00 p.m.
  • Saturday, Feb. 17, 2018 at 7:30 p.m.
  • Sunday, Feb. 18, 2018 at 2:00 p.m.

For more information, click here

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