You are receiving this report because you have recently donated to MindLeaps' project on GlobalGiving, Leap Ahead: Empowering Street Youth Through Dance.
Fifteen MindLeaps students performed at the international Ubumuntu Arts Festival in Kigali, Rwanda on July 14th. The chance to perform in a professional space in front of an audience of 500 people was huge for these talented youth.
All of the eleven boys and four girls that performed come from vulnerable families. Many have spent time on the streets and all of them have dropped out of school due to their daily struggles. They have rarely had the chance to leave the neighborhood in which they live - or to see any sort of stage or professional performance. However, on this night, they were given the opportunity to not only attend an international festival, but to participate as key performers.
The performing students were chosen based on the growth, both behaviorally and cognitively, that they have exhibited in our dance program over the last one to two years. In preparation for the festival, they worked intensively with three guest professional dancers to create a piece about friendship. Over their multiple rehearsals, the dance teachers reinforced the skills that our students learn throughout the year in our normal curriculum. The students practiced creative and critical thinking by adding their own movements into the choreography. Teamwork was enforced by rehearsing over and over the group sections until they all moved in synchronization. Perhaps most importantly, the students continually grew in self-esteem throughout the rehearsal process until they proudly took to the stage, beaming in confidence.
Caitlyn, one of the dancers, wrote:
Their performance was “full of movement, passion, community and love. They are proving to me and the rest of the world that anything is possible. Watching them showcase their efforts and dance their hearts out was one of the proudest moments of my life.”
We are so proud of the talent and passion the students showed in their performance. However, this means so much more to them than just the opportunity to dance. Through the dance program, we have seen each student change. Their behavior significantly improved; they can now quickly pick up new information; and they are hopeful about their futures. While the great majority of them will not become professional dancers, the skills they are learning through dance are giving them the tools they need to succeed in the future. It is our hope that all of these students will go back to school within the next year and begin working towards a thriving life and sustainable career path. If they can bring the confidence they exhibited on stage into their studies and daily life, we have no doubt they will succeed in everything else.
These students only did so well in their performance because of the consistent training they have received in the MindLeaps dance program. Thank you for making that possible!