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Dance for Social Change

New Orleans’ teenagers learn to use their artistic talents to advocate for positive social change in their communities.

WHAT IS DANCE FOR SOCIAL CHANGE?

DSC is a year-round, multifaceted youth leadership initiative where participants learn how to use their artistic talents to advocate for change in their communities. It is led by the DG Uprising teen company, a group of 25 high school artists that rehearse weekly on Saturdays during the school year, studying dance, exploring advocacy issues, and building skills in creative thinking, communication, collaboration, and leadership. Each year, they select a social justice topic impacting their community and create an original performance about that issue. They premiere their work at the annual DSC festival and tour the work to community organizations and festivals.  They also organize a block party, community forums, and other platforms that use the arts to advocate for social change. Past themes have included the school-to-prison pipeline (2016); women’s rights and gender justice (2017); mental health (2018); and gentrification and displacement (2019-2020).

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KEEP UP WITH THE DG UPRISING LEADERS ON INSTAGRAM:


DSC HISTORY & PARTNERSHIP


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 expanded further with new support from Dance USA’s Engaging Dance Audiences grant program with the theme Breaking Through The Stigmas of Mental Health. In 2019, youth decided to create a two-year initiative addressing the effects of gentrification and displacement on New Orleans’ communities of color.

DSC has always been grounded in community partnerships and collaboration. Partners have included: KM Dance Project, People’s Institute for Survival and Beyond, Urban Bush Women, 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, Contemporary Arts Center, New Orleans Youth Open Mic, and many more.

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Dance for Social Change is supported by a grant from the New Orleans Theatre Association (NOTA).

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