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Dance for Social Change (DSC) is an annual arts and leadership program for high school students in which DSC participants develop new artistic skills, self- and social awareness, and tools for social justice organizing. The program is a collaboration of Dancing Grounds, youth leaders, and other local organizations from across the city of New Orleans. The 2018 theme chosen by program participants was Breaking Through the Stigma of Mental Health. The DSC summit weekend had two components: a participatory day of action in support of mental health awareness, and a powerful original, youth-created dance performance presented at the Contemporary Arts Center

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Social J.A.M.’s @ NORDC Stallings Center (6-9pm Weekly on Thursdays, September -December 2017)
Each week, high schoolers participate in 45 minutes of homework help, 90 mins of Social Justice Arts and Movement (J.A.M.) workshops, and a 45-minute open mic. Students will also take field trips to local dance performances, take special workshops with guest artists throughout the year, and opt into participation at rallies, protests, internships, and other civic engagement opportunities. The Social J.A.M. is open to drop-ins anytime…no pre-registration required!

Performance Intensives (January – March 2018) serve as the breeding ground for the development of original, site-adaptive performances that will premiere at the DSC festival and tour to local schools and community organizations. Participants will work with acclaimed dance companies such as Urban Bush Women (NYC) and KM Dance Project (New Orleans) to further their dance training, choreography, composition, and performance skills. Pre-registration is required.

DSC Festival Weekend (March 24-25, 2018) is a two-day event. On Saturday, youth organize a Day of Action in support of local social justice initiatives that includes free dance classes, children’s performances, letter writing, phone bank stations, and more. On Sunday, our young artists present the powerful site-adaptive dance performances that they created during Saturday Dance Intensives. All events are FREE and open to the public.

DSC Performance Tour (April-May 2018) will bring young people to perform their site-adaptive work at local schools and community organizations. Students will engage in dialogue with their peers and facilitate discussions that highlight the role of youth in impacting social change in their community.

DSC launched in 2016 with Raising Student Voices, a series of dance workshops that culminated in site-specific performances in classrooms, hallways, and the cafeteria of Akili Academy.  In 2017, the program grew to include weekly workshops and a Day of Action preceding the festival performances. Students presented original works at the Music Box Village with the theme: Elevating The Playing Field: Women’s Rights and Gender Justice. In 2018, the program will expand further with new support from Dance USA’s Engaging Dance Audiences grant program.  DSC has always been grounded in community partnerships and collaboration. Past partners include: KM Dance Project, BreakOUT!, New Orleans Center for Creative Arts (NOCCA), New Orleans Airlift/Music Box Village, Threadhead Cultural Foundation, New Orleans Theatre Association, Design as Protest/Bryan C. Lee, Arise Academy, Women with a Vision, Junebug Productions, Cocoon: Youth Empowerment Project, and New Orleans Youth Open Mic.

Engaging Dance Audiences is administered by Dance/USA and made possible with generous funding from the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation. 

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