Everybody Dance Now!

Positively transforming the lives of young people through dance, leadership, and community involvement.

Chapter of the Month, EDN! Berkeley

In less than a year since its establishment in August 2013, EDN! Berkeley (EDN!B) has integrated itself as a far-reaching and meaningful organization in its local community. While this includes a variety of schools and children’s programs, one feature unique to the Berkeley chapter is its close relationship with the thriving dance community at the nearby University of California, Berkeley. By seeking quality teachers from this resource, EDN!B has been able to deliver programs that meet high standards, but also provide relatable role-models for children. Student teachers, in turn, have the opportunity to grow from this experience by working closely with the children. In this way, EDN!B has additionally evolved into a bridge between the local community and university community.

EDN! Berkeley, led by its spirited director Elissa Lee, set a solid foundation for itself in its early months by partnering with the Bay Area Hispano Institute for Advancement (BAHIA), Inc., where Berkeley held its first classes for preschool kids. Since then, EDN!B has added three more sites, including King Middle School and Washington Elementary School from the Berkeley United School District, as well as at the Albany Children’s Center. Altogether, EDN!B now serves over 80 kids through its five classes at four sites.

The core group managing the Berkeley chapter has also grown tremendously since its founding, beginning at just three members, and now consisting of fourteen fantastic coordinators and teachers, as well as support from invaluable mentors such as UC Berkeley associate professor Lisa Wymore, UC Berkeley TDPS Marketing Associate Marni Davis, and the Luna Dance Institute. Currently, EDN!B’s projects include developing a comprehensive dance curriculum for lower grades to encourage them to explore movement, and partnering with the many renowned dance teams on the UC Berkeley campus, such as AFX.

imageTo learn more about the team, or follow EDN! Berkeley’s progress, check them out at: http://ednberkeley.org! From exciting upcoming performances to new site partnerships, the EDN! Berkeley team has a lot planned for the upcoming months. It’s been an exhilarating period of growth, and EDN!B plans to only capitalize further on its momentum in order to reach out and serve more students.

Thank you all for your continued support!

 

Santa Barbara Juvenile Hall Weekly Dance Class

"There are guys from different gangs in this room today. It is a miracle they are even moving, let alone dancing," a juvenile hall officer mentioned to me last Friday as I had the dance class take a break from practicing our routine. The Santa Barbara Juvenile Hall was a site recommended to Everybody Dance Now! Santa Barbara by Heather Carney, a good friend and dance teacher of our National Executive Director, Jackie Rotman. I honestly never imagined the class would become my favorite to teach each week.

As a dance instructor with ten years of experience in working with dance students across the United States and internationally, I have taught thousands of kids how to perform the art of dance. Throughout the process of being a professional dancer, choreographer, and instructor, not once was I offered the opportunity to teach outside of the dance studio or company atmosphere; that is, until I became an EDN! instructor and the EDN! SB Program Director. 

What is different about these juvenile hall teens is that they often don’t have much support, whether it be financial or positiveemotional encouragement, throughout their day. I have noticed the way they soak up my compliments: keeping their ”cool” they cannot help but smile subtly at their own progress with the hip hop movements. The encouragement really reaches them on a deep level, and their eyes light up when they feel like they got the step, groove, or routine.  

Many of the teens in this juvenile hall program seamlessly welcome the hip hop dance style; they are familiar with the music and often identify with cultural aspects of hip hop overall. Hip hop dance is thus a way to communicate with them based on the styles of music and movement they already enjoy, without the need to make them feel out of their comfort zone with techniques requiring special attire and technical requirements such as jazz or ballet. When I turn on a beat by a hip hop artist the students love listening to, we have an instant connection, which allows the class to run smoothly. I must admit, it took a couple of weeks for me to earn “credit” as a hip hop dance teacher from them, but now when I enter the trailer space at the juvenile hall, I feel welcomed by the students and staff.

The students’ growth as young individuals and artists is really quite something to witness. Some students even practice the routines from the week before during the entire week to then show me as soon as I enter the space. One of the boys actually shouts out his choreography ideas during the class, and because they are truly excellent ideas, we incorporate them instantly into the routine. Although some students feel embarrassed during the first (or beginning of the) class because they have nevertaken dance class before, I witness everyone feeling artistically and physically fulfilled after the class finishes. I really can’t wait to work with them again this coming Friday.

Best Regards,

Kelli Forman

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New Santa Barbara EDN! Performance Troupe

February 2nd, 2014 dancers gathered for their first Performance Troupe rehearsal at the 1235 Teen Center in Santa Barbara, under the direction of the new performance Troupe Director, Tinelle Matlock. After a very successful orientation meeting the week prior, dancers came to the first rehearsal filled with excitement and eagerness to learn and dance.

Tinelle welcomed past Performance Troupe members along with new Performance Troupe members in their first rehearsal together. As a group, they sat and discussed their intentions for this year’s dance season and how they would like to inspire the community as a dance troupe.

When asked how she felt about participating in the EDN! Performance Troupe, Daniela Sanchez, the Performance Troupe crew leader, said, “I feel like it will be another great experience, because being apart of EDN! is fun and it has taught me a lot of things. I’m looking forward to meeting new people.”

When asked what goals she has for the Performance Troupe, a new Performance Troupe member, Aliana Sherrill, replied, “I hope to get better at hip hop and be able have more performances.”

This year’s EDN! Performance Troupe of Santa Barbara has an eclectic and eager group of dancers: new inexperienced stage dancers, competition dancers, and dancers who just want to connect with others through dance.

They are currently working on their debut dance for the Santa Barbara Fair on April 25th at 5:00PM on the Abra Cadabra Stage at the Earl Warren Showgrounds. The troupe will be dancing to the song “Happy” by Pharrell Williams. Tinelle is sure happy to be working with such an amazing group! She looks forward to what’s to come with this new EDN!SB Performance Troupe.

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Q & A with Pablo, first recipient of college scholarship for EDN! students

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Pablo Gatica walked up to our Founder and Executive Director at Harding School in Santa Barbara in 2006 when he was ten years old and said, “I can dance to that song! Tell me when you’re teaching, ‘cuz I’m so there.”  Pablo was one of the first students we recruited to our performance dance troupe in 2009 for 20 especially dedicated and talented EDN! youth.  Over the years, he’s participated in EDN!’s master classes with Tommy and the Hip-Hop Clowns (2008) and America’s Best Dance Crew’s Season 5 Champions, Poreotix (2010).  Now a high school junior, Pablo has grown into a beautiful dancer but also extraordinary person - and he’s become a chapter leader for EDN! Santa Barbara, giving back so that other students like Pablo have opportunities to dance.

We were absolutely thrilled when one of our donors from the Kirby-Jones Foundation was moved this summer to create a scholarship in Pablo’s name, to be used for college visits and application fees.  Pablo will be the first recipient of the scholarship this year, before other juniors and seniors in EDN! are eligible in the future.  We caught up with Pablo for an interview to learn more about what this means to him, and about his EDN! experiences more generally.

Jackie: What does this scholarship mean to you?

Pablo: To me, it really means that someone out there actually believes in me and knows that if I put my mind to something, I will be able to accomplish it.

J: What has been your favorite Everybody Dance Now! memory so far?

P: My favorite memory would probably have to be becoming an EDN! chapter leader [after being a student] and feeling so involved, knowing all the people who are leaders. It’s great to have such a special bond with them and know that we’re all such good friends.  I’ve been one of the kids who EDN! has helped, and it’s such an honor to know that I’m giving back. 

J: What about your favorite memory as a student?

P: I think my favorite memory as a student would probably be the second Breakdance Project that we did at Peabody School when we all got to perform together.  Getting a solo in the dance was such an honor, and working all together and having those Sunday classes where EDN! leaders would come over and we’d have the teacher and the performance troupe there was so much fun!

J: How has dance affected your life?

P: Dance is my savior. It really is. I feel that if I weren’t dancing, I would have done something stupid already or gotten in trouble – but dance means that if I’m happy or not happy, it’s such a great way to express myself and who I am. I can get everything out that I have bottled up. I really feel that if I wasn’t dancing, I don’t know what I would be doing with my life. It’s such an amazing form of communication. You can get your feelings across in a different way. It’s an art – you tell a story with your body and facial expressions, and it’s just so passionate when you do it.

J: What does it mean for your family that you have free dance opportunities, or what tradeoffs would they otherwise be making to support you in dance?

P: The tradeoffs for my family are really hard. What otherwise happens is that I go into a studio and work several hours a week in order to get classes. They’re usually half off, but it’s still pretty pricey - $40 instead of $90. But for someone like my family, $40 is still really expensive. If I don’t pay that $40, it’s the difference of me dancing or not dancing.

Having an experience like Everybody Dance Now! in which you don’t have to pay for classes and everything is free is just such a blessing, because you’re getting the exact same training that you would get at a studio, and you’re getting in an environment in which it’s either a small group of 5, or a group of 5-15. Everyone gets the individual training that they need, and the same atmosphere that you would at a studio… It’s helped me lose my fear – whenever I take class, I feel like I fit in with everyone else there, and that I’m there for the exact same reason that they are.

J: What are your goals for the future?

P: My goals for the future are to go to a four-year college right after high school. I want to major in Dance and Psychology, and after my four years in a university, I want to go into grad school and further my education more.  After that, I want to travel the world and do the same thing that EDN! is doing by helping underprivileged kids with dance or in any form of arts they can get, and just really impact the world with the same kind of mission that Everybody Dance Now! has.  Then, hopefully, after that, I can just give back as much as I can with whoever I am with.

J: Is there anything else you want to share with EDN! supporters or people who are learning about your story?

P: Just to believe in yourself and really reach high, because I’ve made it so far with the help of amazing people. I don’t have any words to say thank you. I don’t know how to pay them back for so much help that they’ve given me. I feel like if you really look, there is always going to be someone there who is trying to give you help, or who believes in your dreams and who will be there every step of the way to help you accomplish your goals. Just never stop believing, and always dream big.

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Spotlight on EDN! Chicago

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EDN! Chicago was created in May of 2012 and is an exploding chapter that has caught the eyes of many. With its first pilot classes launched just over a year ago in October 2012 at two Boys and Girls Clubs of Chicago, the chapter has since then quadrupled in number of classes and grown to be the 2nd largest chapter behind our inaugural chapter in Santa Barbara. Having recently just added an additional site partner earlier this month, Chicago now offers 8 classes a week at 9 different locations around the large urban city.  But the excitement does not end there; the momentum is still steadily growing!  (And you can watch this chapter in action here.)

EDN! Chicago’s fabulous successes are led by the chapter’s passionate and dedicated director, Sophia Horwich. As a DePaul University student with deep ties and native understanding of the local landscape, Sophia has set a firm foundation for EDN! in Chicago’s unique urban Midwestern environment. Tapping into the already dynamic and longstanding Chicago hip hop dance community, she has developed partnerships with many of the well known hip hop dance companies in the area such as Hip Hop ConnXion and BOOM CRACK!.  These connections have given the chapter access to a number of incredible dance instructors, reaching more than 260 children and counting.

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Furthermore, EDN! Chicago has been a pioneer in generating an innovative nutritional curriculum that supplements its classes. In response to a specific need demonstrated by the communities EDN! Chicago serves, an interactive curriculum was developed and successfully implemented to address realistic daily nutritional issues that commonly result in the food desert communities the EDN! Chicago students reside in. By being sensitive to the local cultures and committed to listening and addressing the community needs, EDN! Chicago has been able to make impressive strides forward in achieving EDN!’s vision.

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However, all these great accomplishments would have never been possible without the support and expertise of communities, donors, and supporters like you. With the fast, exciting, and dynamic growth over the past year that has lead to a projected chapter budget triple of its initial one back in May 2012 to enable programming such as a pre-professional performance dance troupe in the works, EDN! Chicago would love to welcome your support moving forward. Sophia has many more visions for EDN! Chicago in the upcoming year, from an upcoming recital in May, to improved funding models moving ahead.

Way to go, EDN! Chicago! We are excited to see what new updates we’ll be hearing from you in the next year.

“Being director of EDN! Chicago has definitely been the most rewarding thing and life-changing thing that I’ve ever done. I’ve learned so many skills that I didn’t know that I had and that many people don’t learn until they’re much, much older.  I really appreciate the youth led model because it’s also changing the lives of people like me.” - Sophia, EDN! Director

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Inspiring Stories in the Grape-Nuts “Do Something Extraordinary” Facebook Contest!

From Everybody Dance Now!’s Founder and President, Jackie Rotman:

Just a reminder that the Grape-Nuts “Do Something Extraordinary” Facebook Contest is going on for about 2 more weeks - closing on Feb 4th! The contest is a way to encourage people all over to go after the dreams and goals they’re interested in, and to become inspired about what is possible! Grape-Nuts will be awarding $5000 to one lucky individual at the end of the contest to make his or her dreams a reality. I’m excited that Everybody Dance Now!’s story is being featured in the contest, alongside 3 others:

  • Sean Swarner, who climbed the tallest mountain in the world with only partial use of his lungs, after having beaten cancer twice – and then started a nonprofit, CancerClimber, to help people living with cancer do extraordinary things
  • Tyler Tervooren, who inspired a movement of people committed to “Advanced Riskology,” or “avoiding the way it’s supposed to be” – and made a list of life goals that he’s making a reality, including climbing the world’s tallest mountains and running a marathon on each continent
  • Greg and Rachel Denning, who moved with their family of 7 on a trip to explore the world starting in 2007 – driving in a truck fueled by recycled vegetable oil from Alaska to Argentina, and living in places like Costa Rica, India, and the Caribbean!

I cannot wait to see the inspiring entries and learn about the dreams that other people want to see come to life, with possible support from Grape-Nuts!

 

Here are 5 reasons why you should apply:

1. This can be a chance to kick-start your dream project and make a difference.

2. It’s free to enter!

3. You can get your creative juices flowing!

4. My mentor as I was building EDN!, Julie McLeod, told me that getting your ideas, dreams, and goals on paper makes them much more likely to be accomplished. Clarifying what you want to do and writing this down – setting your mind to it — is a huge portion of the work! From there, it’s just about taking those first next steps to make your goals a reality.

5. You never know! Your idea might just be the lucky winner…. Read the stories of the Dennings, Tyler, Sean, and EDN!, and get inspired.

 

Just a couple more weeks left to enter! Check out the details HERE.

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Win $5000 to make a difference in the Grape-Nuts “Do Something Extraordinary” Facebook Contest!

A Note from Everybody Dance Now!’s Founder and Board Chair, Jackie Rotman:

I’m really excited about a contest that is about to start, the Grape-Nuts “Do Something Extraordinary” Facebook Contest. Grape-Nuts is launching a program to help people achieve the extraordinary. They’ll be awarding $5000 to help one inspiring winner make his or her dreams a reality! To help inspire fans and people who are interested in entering the competition, Grape-Nuts is profiling 4 stories of how ordinary individuals were able to achieve extraordinary dreams. We’re excited that Everybody Dance Now! (EDN!) is one of the stories that Grape-Nuts is featuring in the contest to inspire others!

8 years ago, EDN! was a vision and a dream — something yet to be manifested or put into life. In the spring of 2006, we began our first 3 EDN! classes, after months of planning; and by 2010, we were helping young people throughout the United States launch their own EDN! chapters, based on the success that we had had at our founding chapter in Santa Barbara, CA – which was holding 17 classes per week at the time. Today, EDN! has provided free hip-hop dance programs to more than 2,500 children in 10 cities throughout the United States who could not otherwise afford access, and we’re excited to see the movement continue to spread — with a cohort of 4-6 new chapters beginning in early 2013. (Stay tuned for more details on where these chapters are being created – or email hillery@everybodydancenow.org ASAP if you’d like an application to start your own chapter… there are a still more openings!) This entire organization has been led by ordinary individuals - from 13 year-old volunteers to Advisory Board Members to university students to community activists and supporters. I feel proud that EDN! demonstrates how grassroots efforts, led by anyone, can result in change and can uplift communities and individuals

The Grape-Nuts “Do Something Extraordinary” contest is promoting the message that that is possible- and I couldn’t be more excited to be a part of it! Over the next few weeks, I’ll be a judge for the entries that are submitted for this contest. The contest runs from Jan 7th to Feb 4th - so if you have an idea for something extraordinary you’d like to do, don’t hesitate! Apply and/or get inspired by the stories being featured in the Grape-Nuts campaign! Good luck!

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