Diablo Ballet gets $25K for incarcerated teen girls program

- Diablo Ballet has been granted nearly $25,000 by the California Arts Council to help incarcerated teen girls learn to express their emotions through movement and teamwork, the ballet company said Friday.

The $24,608 grant will pay for weekly classes for 10 months for 45 girls ages 15 to 18 incarcerated at John A. Davis Juvenile Hall in Martinez, according to Lauren Jonas, the ballet's artistic director.

This is the fourth year the California Arts Council has funded the endeavor through its JUMP StArts program. The classes at juvenile hall are part of a larger program at the ballet, the PEEK Program. The juvenile hall classes are known as the PEEK Extension Program.

"(The grant) enables us to work in juvenile hall with at-risk teenage girls," Jonas said. "We teach them to express themselves through movement and get them on a better path. We've been very successful in the last three years.

"Since we have been (at juvenile hall), we saw only four returned detainees, which apparently is remarkable because it's usually a revolving door. We're really proud of the girls and the program," Jonas said.

PEEK is an arts education curriculum offered by the ballet and designed to teach students to express their feelings through movement and teamwork, according to Jonas. PEEK stands for Performing Arts Education and Enrichment for Kids and the PEEK Extension is just a small part of the PEEK 
program.

The grant will provide Diablo Ballet with the money needed to implement the PEEK Extension courses and hire a curriculum specialist to further refine the curriculum, ballet officials said.

The arts council's JUMP StArts program focuses on high-quality arts education and artists-in-residence for youth in the juvenile justice system.

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