Noble Barker Scholarship


Meet New Haven Ballet 2017-2018 Noble Barker Scholarship Winner, Abigail Miller

Abigail is 17 years old and a senior in high school.

Here are 10 things you may not know about Abigail:

    1. I started dancing recreationally in 8th grade and came to New Haven Ballet in 9th grade when I wanted to become more serious about dance.
    2. I am a Level 5 student at New Haven Ballet where I take classes four days per week.
    3. Some of my favorite dance classes have included those where we learn lessons that can be applied outside of the studio. I remember a teacher telling our class to dance as if we meant it and wanted to be there. This stayed with me because it truly is important to do everything to the best of your ability; it is better to know that even if something doesn’t go well, you tried your best.
    4. I pray when I get nervous.
    5. I have never suffered an injury that rendered me me unfit to dance.
    6. I used to play the clarinet. I had been on stage in orchestras but never as a dancer. As an instrumentalist the only thing I had to focus on was playing the correct notes. As a dancer I must perform through my movements and my face. It is important that the audience be entertained by your performance, and a blank face does not do that. While I wouldn’t say it is frustrating, it is something that I have to remember.
    7. During my first Nutcracker, I enjoyed learning the step “pas de basques” as a member of the Spanish Hot Chocolate Corps.
    8. I am interested in medicine. I plan to study pre-med in college and go on to med school.
    1. I am a bit on the quiet side and spend more time internally processing than speaking. Because of this I gain more from serene environments with small groups of people. To connect this to dance, I enjoy the tranquility of a slower combination at barre. With pliés, for example, I am able to focus on each individual movement.
    2. When you learn dance techniques, such as lifting up our chin in épaulement, you are building confidence in your dance movements — and learning to lift up your chin in life!

Meet New Haven Ballet 2016-2017 Noble Barker Scholarship Winner, Stephanie Persiani.

Stephanie is 17 years old and a senior in high school.

Here are 10 things you may not know about Stephanie:

  1. I love everything about ballet! I love the structure, the discipline, the fluidity, and how I feel doing it.
  2. I have been dancing for 12 years; I started when I was 5. I have been studying ballet for the last two years and before that tap, jazz, and hip hop.
  3. I dance at NHB 6 days a week.
  4. My favorite dance experiences include the first time I put on pointe shoes, participating in NHB’s summer program, and Saturday morning classes!
  5. Before performances I listen to the music nonstop and mark my parts.
  6. To me ballet is the art of making something difficult look effortless. A lot of people think that it is simple but it’s a very complex art form.
  7. Last year I suffered a concussion that put me out of dance for 5 months. While I was unable to dance I sat on the couch and wore my pointe shoes all the time, while forcing my brother to do glissades and cabrioles so I could keep dance with me even when I wasn’t able to do it myself.
  8. The most frustrating thing about ballet is working to come back from any time off and get back to where you were before.
  9. After I graduate from high school I plan to attend college. Hopefully in 10 years I will have finished all my schooling and be a doctor and still be dancing!
  10. At NHB I am surrounded by people I perceive to be better than me — they inspire me to strive to better myself. The best advice I wish to impart to younger students is to remind yourself a bad dance day isn’t the end of the world. Keep working hard, nothing as amazing as ballet is going to be easy!


 Meet New Haven Ballet’s First Noble Barker Scholarship Winner, Kelsey Blount. Kelsey was 16 years old and a senior in High School when she was awarded the Noble Barker Scholarship.

Here are 10 things you may not know about Kelsey:

1. I have been dancing for 11 years. I started at the age of 5.

2. I dance at my high school 5 days a week and at New Haven Ballet 4 days a week.

3. My first performance in The Nutcracker was the most memorable time in my dance experience. Being a part of such a great production at such a young age had me captivated with ballet. The older dancers who would have the leads inspired me and I would say to myself, “I want that to be me when I get older.” Now that I am a senior, just like the girls I was inspired by, the experience is that much more surreal

4. Before a performance I like to pray.

5. What people do not know about ballet is the amount of commitment and dedication it takes in class, to practice and perform. Being a ballet dancer is more than just a twirl; it has structure, technique, and discipline.

6. My favorite step to perform is grande allegro, especially, sissone faille assemble.

7. With ballet there is a lot of pressure to do your best and not meeting your personal expectations can be frustrating. I would advise younger students to work hard in class and to never give up. Dedication and commitment will help you to improve yourself not only physically but also mentally.

8. I enjoy the beauty of ballet. Ballet conveys so much through movement, your posture and facial expression. Ballet allows you to perform and communicate to the audience.

9. The fact that there are not numerous African-American ballet dancers inspires me to continue to practice classical ballet. I want to be a figure or role model for younger girls who think that they cannot practice ballet because of stereotypes.

10. After high school I plan to go to college to receive a nurse practitioner degree and a minor degree in dance. In 10 years I see myself in the medical field while dancing and teaching younger children.

photo: Thomas Giroir (c) 2016.


About Noble Barker:

photo 2-4Noble Barker

New Haven Ballet Founder


Noble Barker founded New Haven Ballet in 1985, serving as its Artistic Director until 2000. In 2001, Barker became the Artistic Director of the Pioneer Valley Ballet in Northampton, Massachusetts, and in 2003 founded East Street Ballet in Hadley, Massachusetts. In 2006, after spending nearly six years in the Pioneer Valley region of Massachusetts, Barker returned to the position of Artistic Director of New Haven Ballet. Barker originally trained at the School of the Pennsylvania Ballet while attending the University of Pennsylvania and went on to dance with Cincinnati Ballet, Concert Dance Company of Boston, Hartford Ballet, and Connecticut Ballet in New Haven. He danced soloist and principal roles in works by master choreographers, including George Balanchine, Paul Taylor, August Bournonville, Jennifer Muller, Ana Sokolov, Bruce Wells and Michael Uthoff, and he taught at schools and companies throughout the region including Yale University, UMASS Amherst, Mt. Holyoke College, Nutmeg Ballet, and Portland Ballet in Maine. As a choreographer, he created over 50 repertory works for student and professional companies ranging in style from classical to modern to musical theater, including full-length versions of The Nutcracker, Coppélia, and Cinderella. From 1981-85, Barker served as resident choreographer for Connecticut Ballet and from 1985-2000 choreographed for the New Haven Ballet Company, Omaha Ballet, Ballet Lubbock, Yale Opera, New Haven Symphony, Orchestra New England, and Chancel Opera Company.In September of 2008, he received the Distinguished Achievement Award from the Connecticut Dance Alliance, where he served on the Board of Directors for several years.

In August 2014, New Haven Ballet announced the creation of the Noble Barker Scholarship. This full tuition scholarship may be awarded to a deserving high school Senior, who demonstrates tremendous dedication to studying classical ballet at New Haven Ballet, exhibits the highest moral and ethical standards, is kind, courteous and gracious inside and outside the classroom, and displays significant improvement over the course of the prior year at New Haven Ballet. All New Haven Ballet students who: 1.) are entering their senior year in high school in the fall of the award year; 2.) have timely registered for classes or submitted financial aid/scholarship applications; and 3.) have completed a full year of classical ballet training at New Haven Ballet during the year prior to the award year are eligible and will be considered for this scholarship.


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