MindLeaps at Ubumuntu Festival
Throughout the summer, our students leapt to new heights – on the stage and in the classroom.
In July, our students were invited to perform at the international Ubumuntu Arts Festival in Kigali, Rwanda. The festival aims to promote peace building and healing from violence. MindLeaps Rwanda teacher Ssali Eugene and American dancer Caitlyn Casson worked with several students to choreograph and stage a new work that was performed at the festival. The piece, called “Torn Together”, was performed on the first night of the festival in front of an audience of thousands.
After the performance, Caitlyn said, “These children have come so far. When you see them on stage, you cannot imagine that they do not go to school or have a safe place to sleep at night. On stage, they are free – and they are artists.”
You can watch a video on MindLeaps' participation in Ubumuntu 2017 here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tHxCrm_vhUA
In August, MindLeaps welcomed two prestigious dancers from Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo to our MindLeaps Center in Rwanda. Chase Johnsey, winner of The Critics Circle Best Male Dancer prize at the National Dance Awards, joined Carlos Renedo as part of MindLeaps’ Train the Trainers program. Chase and Carlos provided 40 hours of intensive classical ballet training and contemporary dance technique to MindLeaps instructors and advanced dance students.
Chase and Carlos also visited several of our kids' families to learn more about their lives and the challenging situations they face every day. After visiting one of the student’s homes, Carlos said: “The first thing that caught my attention was the size of what they call their home… a tiny bench, a mattress on the floor and a couple cooking pots against the corner. That is it… Despite it being the first time that I personally experienced real poverty first hand, Passy’s mom made sure I felt welcome... It certainly is a very humbling experience to get to see where and in what conditions these loving people live in.”
Our partnership with Akazi Kanoze also launched over the summer. Akazi Kanoze’s mission is to provide Rwandan youth with the employability skills, capital, and support necessary to take advantage of economic opportunities. This partnership helped MindLeaps' students take the next steps in their careers. Our older students have frequently been out of school for many years, and it is too late for many of them to return to primary school. For these youth, once they have been rehabilitated through MindLeaps dance program, we raise scholarships to send those children to vocational training centers rather than regular primary school. We have several students currently in vocational school, and several more that have already graduated. We partnered with Akazi Kanoze to provide our graduated VTC students with the employability, business, and entrepneurial skills needed to significantly contribute to the economic development of their families, communities and country.
After a summer filled with dance, inspiring international guest artists and job skills training, these youth are taking important steps to becoming independent, successful members of their community. Thank you for making this transformation possible!
MindLeaps students perform at Ubumuntu
Dance class with Chase Johnsey