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Dancing off the Streets: Jacques d'Amboise

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21 May 2010: Jacques D'Amboise

May 20 materialized former New York City Ballet star Jacques D'Amboise's latest forway into lands most people shun: the inner-city ghettoes--Trenton, NJ, my birthplace, in this instance.

Into those places permeated by low incomes, unemployment, drug addiction, drug sellers, prostitution, hopelessness, he brings music, dance, fifteen minutes of fame for each child, and hope.

That is my impression, anyway. And that seemed to have been the reality each other time I attended these events.

Public schools were bereft of the culture we had enjoyed: music and art in addition to the usual humanities and sciences. The tanking economy, which always afflicts the poor first, had cut off these windows into creativity and joy.

How they deserved this "day in the sun."

I know that the African American culture is rife with lively music--Sunday church services rock with joy and an enviable depth of faith. So the children I saw on the stage in years past were not quite the strangers to the marvelous escape into rhythm and artforms I supposed.

Is this a review or speculation?

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kstage--something I hadn't seen before.

Was this all masking a fund raiser? I was told that next year's annual event would not be so lavish.

But the other kids, the ones like me who couldn't dance and always lurked in the shadows were it not for Jacques D'Amboise--where were they? The uncoordinated ones?

The ones who made me cry in years past? The ones who would grow up to sweep floors and collect trash and pump gas and be grateful for even that given our present economy. Where were they? The ones in need of memories the kids who did perform last night might soon take for granted?

I should have paid closer attention to the names of the public schools listed. Did they now inhabit the tonier side of Trenton?

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Jacques D'Amboise's absence was blatant, but no explanation was given.

It was my birthday, but I went there to commiserate, not even to write a blog but to experience the same old anger, the same old injustice I could do nothing about.

Then I ran into a first-grade classmate, now a prosperous lawyer and president of a benevolent foundation that supported such events. I was snowed. (I also ran into my eighth-grade art-history teacher, another amazingly emotional few moments. I had written my first research paper for her, not yet aware of what the future held, mired in the past as I would remain for unhappy years to come.) What a great cause. Had his foundation purchased the endless piles of Capezio shoeboxes?

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Marta Steele is an author/editor/blogger who has been writing for since 2006. Her original website,, first entered the blogosphere in 2003. She recently became an editor for She has in the past taught (more...)

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