Royal New Zealand Ballet teaching at the Arohata Women's Prison

The Royal New Zealand Ballet is going to jail, but not in the way you think; the company is working with a corrections facility to teach inmates ballet.

The partnership between the ballet company and the Arohata Women's Prison is a program to help the women develop skills and eventually reduce the inmate population. The participation in the program is a part of the inmates rehabilitation plan, and is designed to teach the women discipline while also allowing them to express themselves. For some of the inmates, the class is why they get up in the morning; for others it helps them with various mental illnesses, while allowing them to share their emotions through movement.

The women have been participating in weekly rehearsals to prepare for their Christmas concert, which will be used to raise money for their community projects. So far, responses to the program have been very positive, and there are plans for the program to continue. It makes you wonder - what would happen if we brought more dance programs like this to women’s prisons here in the U.S.?

About the author

Keira Whitaker is a dedicated teacher, performer, and choreographer, who has been dancing for the past 21 years. She recently graduated from the University of California Irvine with a BFA in Dance performance and a minor in English.