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Everybody dance now: transforming lives through dance

Everybody dance now: transforming lives through dance

Everybody knows how to dance. Ok, some people don’t know but they can move to the rhythm. Music makes us move whether we want it or not and the beats are not indifferent to the body, and the other way around. Dancing is so traditional in every culture in the world that spiritual rituals involve dancing, there is a worldwide TV show called “Dancing with the stars” and it is a skill needed to socialize in almost every country in the world.

Dancing is so special that there is a charity in Santa Barbara that uses this activity, dancing hip hop and urban music, to reach out to young kids in order to give them a  sense of leadership and community involvement that they can use in the future to have fun, to teach or to just stay out of trouble.

Let’s take at look at their story.

Everybody Dance Now is a charity that gives out free, weekly hip hop dance classes and programs to teenagers in underprivileged situations and communities.  They aim at inspiring teenagers and teaching them values such as healthy and active lives and empowerment to be young leaders that can contribute to their families and communities.  

They use what they call C.R.E.A.T.E. which has the following meaning and it is shown in their website www.everybodydancenow.org:

  • “Cultivate self-esteem and self-value
  • Respect their bodies and establish healthy lifestyles
  • Express themselves and channel energy through creative alternatives
  • Achieve goals and maintain a positive attitude through challenges
  • Take part in consistent programming that promotes friendship and a sense of belonging
  • Expand their perspectives through community service and cultural learning”

The whole idea of Everybody Dance Now came in the year 2003, after founder  Jackie Rotman had to dance in front of 80 people with that had some type of disability. In that moment, and when the performance was going very well, a technical failure occurred. Jackie, who was 12 at that time, had to do something about it, improvise. She invited the audience to express themselves on stage just how she was doing it. This is an amazing girl with a vision, and when she saw the transformation that dance had in the teenagers and how this type of dance gave them self-confidence, empowerment and joy she decided to really do something about it.  She was 14 when she recruited 3 friends to go dance and teach hip hop classes to three local elementary schools in the Santa Barbara area. She then received help from Julie McLeod who was at the head of Santa Barbara Dance Alliance and they designed an executive summary, recruited community leaders and knocked on the doors of many schools . here, the idea really took off.  

Everybody dance now:  transforming lives through dance
Image courtesy of alyssa.becker at flickr.com

The international fame came in the spring of 2010 when MTV broadcasted a show called America’s Best Dance Crew and had an episode dedicated to charities that was called “Champions for Charity”. Later, Everybody Dance Now started receiving emails from all over the world from countries such as Peru, Ireland, Switzerland, Russia, China and Canada, that wanted to have the same idea but in their context but had no idea where to begin. After that year, Everybody Dance Now started to use their website and services to give mentorship, resources, support and training to people that wanted to have their own Everybody Dance Now.

So, since the year 2005 Everybody Dance Now has helped 6,000 teenagers that live in underprivileged conditions or have disabilities. Nowadays Everybody Dance Now runs 60 classes per week in the United States only and they give the teenagers the opportunity to express themselves through dance. If the program did not exist, theses teenagers would never have the chance to dance as a freedom of expression. There are 4 branches in the United States in Pomona, Santa Barbara, Chicago, and New York City.

In order to give the best service, approach and activities Everybody Dance Now follows a standard that is called “the Social and Emotional Learning Standards for Expanded Learning Programming” which gives the charity the following goals to meet:

  • Safe and encouraging environment. Everybody Dance Now gives the teenagers an academic and fun environment where they can learn and manage their social, emotional, and physical needs.
  • Active learning. EDN uses methods that are focused on physical activities that teach collaboration, team work and discipline.
  • Skill teaching. The program provides the teenagers with the skills they need to be leaders in the 21st century.
  • Leadership. EDN understands and gives special academic privileges to those teenagers that show leadership skills and are willing to continue in the path.

Did you like this post? Be sure to also take a look at this article on some charities in the Santa Barbara area that are supporting very important educational programs