Homeless shelters may seem like an unlikely place to discover classical ballet dancers, but that’s exactly what the New York Theatre Ballet’s Project LIFT program has been doing for the past 30 years. Offering scholarships to homeless, home insecure and at-risk children, LIFT exposes participants to the beauty and discipline of ballet, often for the first time, and helps them develop talent they never knew they had. Serving as mentor to these impressionable young dancers is Steven Melendez, an international ballet star who was himself plucked from a Bronx homeless shelter at age 7 through the LIFT program. Using his own personal experiences to connect with the kids, Steven’s guidance inspires them to reach for bigger dreams than they ever thought possible.
Spanning the course of 10 years, this moving film follows Steven and his hand-picked students as they traverse the ups and downs of their journeys from shelter to stage, culminating in a remarkable performance that speaks to the often unseen struggles of homelessness in America.--Andrea Passafiume
Academy Award®-nominated filmmaker, David Petersen, has films in the permanent collections of several museums including MoMA. His films include Fine Food, Fine Pastries, Open 6 to 9, If You Lived Here You Would Be Home Now, Let the Church Say Amen, Journey of the Bonesetter’s Daughter, and The Witmans.