Number of participants :
The urban dance project has been attended by 68 children during the first year and 130 during the second. Half of the participants were female, which is quite a great achievement regarding the neighbourhood’s economic and cultural traditionalist background.
(Durant la première année du projet une soixantaine (68) d'enfants ont suivi régulièrement les cours de danse dispensés au niveau de la salle Larbi Zaouli - quartier Zaraba. A la fin de l'année, à cause des examens et de l'approche des vacances, l'absentéisme a fortement augmenté et seuls 56 enfants ont participé au spectacle de fin d'année.
En début d'année, le pourcentage des filles participant au programme était faible. Avec la stabilisation des effectifs par groupe, ce même pourcentage a augmenté pour atteindre à la fin de l'année 50%. Ce résultat est très satisfaisant et assez inattendu compte tenu du contexte social du projet (bidonville à la périphérie de Casablanca donc marqué par la pauvreté et un conservatisme prononcé par rapport aux traditions et à la religion).
La deuxième année, le projet s'est étendu à 2 nouveaux quartiers. Ainsi aux enfants de Zaraba (68), se sont ajoutés ceux de Derb Moulay Cherif (27) et les enfants de L'Heure Joyeuse (34). L'effectif a donc presque doublé en passant de 68 à 129 il a connu une augmentation de 130% et celui des filles est passé de 28 à 58 bien que sa part relative ait diminué.)
During the second year, we decided to replace the dance teachers. We recruited 3 new dancers and an artistic coordinator, which helped us reduce our expenses by 38% while doubling the number of children and maintaining the quality of the program. However, the development of the project was restrained by the departure of the artistic coordinator, the cancellation of the acting classes and of the teachers’ training program.
(En cette deuxième année du projet, nous avons recruté de nouveaux intervenants artistiques (danseurs). Cette décision est venue suite aux problèmes rencontrés avec la Compagnie Salama : manque de flexibilité, coût élevé de l'intervention, manque de suivi pédagogique des enfants ...
Cette décision nous a permis d'offrir une opportunité de travail à 3 jeunes danseurs marocains + 1 coordinateur artistique. Elle a également permis de réaliser des économies importantes sur le budget tout en touchant 2 fois plus d’enfants. En effet, le budget a connu en 2007-2008 une diminution de près de 38% par rapport à la première année et la part des dépenses relevant des interventions artistiques ne dépasse pas les 26% alors qu'elles constituaient le principal poste de dépenses en 2006-2007.
Bien que les principaux objectifs de l'année ont été atteint (effectif, assiduité, implication), certaines contraintes ont cependant bloqué le développement du projet. Le départ du coordinateur artistique en milieu d'année a fortement nuit à l'avancement du programme pédagogique prévu. Les cours de théâtre ont été annulés, la création d'un spectacle thématique a également été interrompue et la formation des éducateurs n'a pas pu se faire non plus ... Ceci explique la faible part du budget consacrée à ces activités. Nous restons cependant fortement attachés à ces objectifs que nous essaierons d'atteindre cette année.)
More than a project :
Two years after the beginning of the project, we notice that although the children come from very unprivileged backgrounds, many of them are much more confident and open-minded. Some of them could even take part in holiday camps. Even the teachers took profit from the program and were able to build a professional network that can be very beneficial to their careers.
(Après 2 années du projet, nous constatons que les enfants se sentent plus épanouis et plus surs d’eux. A travers la danse, ils ont découvert un potentiel et des ressources qu’ils ne pensaient pas avoir. Beaucoup de ses enfants vivent dans des conditions déplorables. Généralement, ils ont aussi des difficultés à l’école faute de suivi et d’accompagnement. La danse constitue pour eux un moyen de se défouler et d’oublier leurs problèmes mais aussi un espace de créativité et d’expression où ils se sentent valorisés et mis en confiance. Ils ont développé des liens entre eux et une forte relation avec leurs encadrants et professeurs. Le hip hop a pris une place importante dans leur vie. Certains enfants s'entrainent même en dehors des heures de cours.
Le projet a permis aux enfants les plus nécessiteux d'intégrer des colonies de vacances cet été (activités connexes). Ils ont ainsi pu voyager durant leurs vacances comme tous les autres et ont bénéficié d'activités ludiques et éducatives sous l'encadrement des membres des associations partenaires.
Le projet a également permis aux jeunes professeurs de nouer des relations qui seront utiles à leur carrière. A titre d’exemple, un des professeurs, Adil a été engagé cet été pour animer un atelier de hip hop lors d’une colonie de vacances.)
January 2008: Difficult beginning
This year and through the 3 areas targeted, we reach about 130 children. After the first 2 months, we established the final lists and paid the insurance duties to cover children in case of accident during the lessons. We also divide the children into 8 groups regarding to their school schedule and their age.
We met many difficulties at the beginning of the year. In addition to the children indiscipline and their irregularity despite their great motivation to be a part of the program we had to face the misunderstanding of people. For example: one day we were surprised to see that none of the children enrolled in the program came to attend the planned lessons. We tried to understand the reason behind this. We knew that their Arabic teacher at school has forbidden their participation to the dance lessons. She has threatened them by saying she will give them bad marks if they disobey. The day after we went to the school to met the pedagogic staff. We were pleased to notice that the school director himself was defending our program. We invite the Arabic teacher to attend our lessons and see that there’s nothing neither indecent nor disrespectful to our culture and traditions… A week later, all the children attended the dance lessons!
February 2008: the first “Battle”
In the hip hop culture, a battle is a duel between 2 groups of dancers. After almost 4 months of training, we’ve decided to organize the first battle. More than a competition, the battle is the opportunity for all the children of the 3 sites to meet each other, compare their level, and simply to unwind on a dance floor…
The 17th of February : the Battle’s day. Children were very excited. They came to “defend” their color: black for “Zaraba”, blue for “Derb Moulay Cherif” and red for “Blevédère”. Before the event, we’ve prepared children and explained to them that it was not a real battle and that they have to respect each other and to be fairplay in case of loss… It wasn’t easy to stop them “fighting” through dance. The hardest thing was to designate a winner. And the winner was : ZARABA.
March 2008: medical follow-up
By the end of February, Dr David, a volunteer doctor, started the medical visits to all the children of the program. Through theses consultations, he will evaluate the global state of the children’s health and decide what L’Heure Joyeuse can do to improve their health situation.
To be continued …
According to the goals and in order to reach more and more children, we have decided to expand the Urban Dance – Dancing Shanty towns program to 2 more areas : Derb Moulay Cherif, sadly famous by its secret jail during the 1970es, and Belvedere where L’Heure Joyeuse is situated (thus our children can be involved).
The choice of these two areas is, as for Zaraba, motivated by our will to imply young organizations-partners : Addel El Waref in Zaraba and Initiative Urbaine in Derb Moulay Cherif.
New areas but also new dancers : young Moroccans who have fought many years to make from their passion a real profession.
They’re very pleased to take part of the program.
We’ve also planned to add other activities in relation to the hip hop culture, to the DST program: theater, graffiti and photo lessons.
The project is growing up and the team too : in addition to the artistic coordinator we’ve hired in june, we have a person in charge of the children in Initiative Urbaine. We also try to imply more and more local authorities because we are convinced that their participation is essential for the program’s durability.
In L'Heure Joyeuse we send regularly reports to our partners to share with them our difficulties and our successes and to keep them informed of the project's evolution.
We would like to share some reports on our project from April - May 2007 and June –July 2007. Our reports are in French but below are quick summaries in English. We look forward to keeping you posted on our progress. Also be sure to check out our photographs in the attached reports. Thank you Clare for translating these!
APRIL - MAY 2007
In April and May of 2007, the students prepared for and performed a show and after a very long day, they were proud of their efforts. They enjoyed their shoes from Nike, and liked being the center of attention.
There was also a 2-day loss of power; and some classes had to be conducted without music.
Three professors were absent on May 9 and May 13, but were replaced with other company dancers. The students spent these days in review for the May 19 performance!
Doctor's visits were also coordinated for the month of May, in order to evaluate the physical capacity of the students - whether they were able to participate in the Streetdance classes, and their general physical health. All students examined were physically able to participate in the classes.
Dr. David did bring to L'Heure Joyeuse's (HJ) attention one little girl who was suffering abuse at the hands of her father. In light of Morocco's lack of a child abuse protection system, HJ decided to take a particular interest in her case. Sadly, they currently don't have any way to influence her father; we don't want to offend the parents, who could very easily just take her from our program. More to come on that...
A vaccination program will be implemented, after medical visits found that hepatitis vaccinations in particular vaccinations were lacking. Measles and hepatitis vaccinations for all students will be addressed, and tetanus for the girls.
M. Amine El Azadi was hired as artistic coordinator. He was chosen because of his great deal of experience, his education, and also his references. He will be in charge of developing and refining a complete artistic program for next year. He'll also help find new sites and additional classrooms.
*JUNE - JULY 2007*
In June and July of 2007, the students prepared for and performed an end-of-term dance extravangaza (July 3). After the performance, young adult classes stopped for the summer, because most of the participants had to find summer jobs, and class hours were shortened for younger children. The last class of the year was held on 25 July.
Two students helped decorate the room where the end-of-the-year performance was to be held.
At the show, prizes were given to the students who had best earned them. (Prizes included bags, watches, and Nike balls.) Class attendance and behavior were among the things considered when selecting winners.
L'Heure Joyeuse (HJ) has elaborated upon the plan for the 2007/2008 school
year, and will submit this to you soon for a review. HJ officially ended the commitment with La Contemporaine de Danse. (HJ sent a letter of thanks to La Contemporaine de la Danse, included with this newsletter, assuring them that the partnership enriched the school year. According to this letter, the partnership was terminated for reasons outside of the control of HJ, and not at all intended to reflect upon the quality of work or professionalism of La Contemporaine de la Danse.)
In order to reach more students, HJ has chosen two additional sites.
They're in talks with la Commune des Roches Noires about using one of their classrooms.
L'Heure Joyeuse was closed from August 6 - 22. We will be working on the No Problemo resolution, and will send it to you as soon as it is ready.
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