Urban Ballet, a full-length work inspired by the music of 2pac by Houston Arts Alliance Individual Artist Choreography Fellowship Grant recipient Sherese Campbell, Stephanie Sermas, emerging artist choreography grant winner Jaimee Vilela Navarrete and guest choreographer Chris Thomas of SonKisss’d. Performances: December 3, 4, 10, and 11, 2016.

Sherese Campbell’s Urban Ballet seeks to tell the story of black culture in America through jazz, hip-hop, modern, pointe and tap. Inspired by the music and message of 2pac, Campbell has created a narrative that portrays the different experiences in a “ghetto” neighborhood, using City Dance Company and, guest company, SonKiss’d to create a fusion of styles complex enough to portray the issues.

The dances depict the role of dance, music, sex, drugs, alcohol, violence, family, and personal struggle in the day-to-day life of these under-served, over-looked black neighborhoods across the country. In lieu of a recognizable cast of characters, the production focuses on the local culture, thrusting this abstract idea into the role of the main character. What the audience sees is the story of a neighborhood and its people – the social gatherings, the relationships, the commerce – that could be anywhere in the country.

Urban Ballet fights to show what occurs when an entire nation turns its back on a single race, attempting to strip them of their cultural roots by asking them to assimilate to the majority. This is the story of the aftermath of a justice system that incarcerates an unrealistically high percentage of black males, leaving children without fathers, wives without husbands, and families forced to hustle and steal, just to survive in a society that labels them as “less than.” Urban Ballet is an unapologetic display of what it is to be black in America.

Tickets are $25 for general admission/$20 for students with ID online; $30 at the door. They can be purchased in advance online at or bought at the performance at City Dance Studio, 1307 West Clay, Houston, Texas 77019. For more information about the concert or the jazz, modern, ballet, and tap classes offered at City Dance, call 713-529-6100 or visit their website at City Dance is a non-profit dance studio and performing arts organization catering to dancers from ages 3 to 83.

Photo by Claudia Casbarian: