Children
 Panama
Project #8753

At Risk Children Dance for Social Change

by Fundacion Calicanto
Vetted
Receiving the INNOVA Award in MacroFest
Receiving the INNOVA Award in MacroFest

We finished this year’s Panamanian summer very energized and began Enlaces’ 2016 course in mid March with many surprises and intense activities.

In March, as part of Panama City’s arts and creative industries festival MacroFest 2016, Enlaces received the INNOVA award in the Category of Social Impact through the Arts. As part of the festival’s program our top student Juan presented a solo in front of more than 500 people.

Following this great pep, three of our children were casted in “Las Mariposas Ya no Viven Aquí” (Butterflies no longer live here), a local production that has traveled to Guatemala, Costa Rica and Miami since 2014, promoting through dance the message of Tolerance and Fraternity by staging the Jewish Holocaust and its impact in our modern society. The cast consisted of 96 professional and non-professional dancers, who were directed by the renowned Spanish choreographer Fernando Hurtado. Our selected children assisted to intense daily rehearsals for a month, and were able to participate in educational workshops by the international organization Yad Vashem about the Holocaust and the consequences of indifference. There were four presentations between April 5 and 6, to whom more than 10,000 people assisted. The rest of our children also received workshops and talks about this subject by Yad Vashem, assisted to the theatre to see their peers and received a special dance workshop by Fernando Hurtado.

After the rush of a very successful production, one of our students received an invitation to represent Panama in the XXth Summit of Dance Schools and Academies of Central America held in Managua, Nicaragua, on April 29th, as part of the celebrations of the International Day of Dance, where dance students from Central America and Mexico presented their work. Our 15 year-old student Juan, traveled to this Central American country for the first time, and aside from taking ballet, jazz, modern and folklore classes with renowned teachers, he presented a solo in the magnificent Theatre Ruben Darío of Managua.

It has been a very exciting “First Act” for 2016, and we are very happy we have started the year with events that promote and recognize the talent of our students in national and international stages, help them build their artistic curriculum and nurture their dance experience. 

 

*The names in this report have been changed to respect the privacy of our benecifiaries.

Audition of "Butterflies no longer live here"
Audition of "Butterflies no longer live here"
End of the show
End of the show
In costume for "Butterflies no longer live here"
In costume for "Butterflies no longer live here"
Our talented Juan in Managua
Our talented Juan in Managua
Very exciting "First Act" for 2016
Very exciting "First Act" for 2016

Links:

Volunteers having fun with the kids
Volunteers having fun with the kids

What a great summer we have had!! The past few weeks has been really busy for us, from greeting donors that had visited us from all over the world to planning our 2016 calendar and founding strategies. The good news is that we had the opportunity of upgrading our Enlaces Summer Program, this time with the participation of our Nuestra Señora de la Merced students plus our regular twenty kids.

The importance of creating spaces for recreational activities is that because most of our children lack of places where to play and be kids. They live in one of the most dangerous areas of Panama in houses so small it is almost impossible to play inside. So, every time they go outside, they take the risk of entering zones ruled by gangs.

We strongly believe that children must be children and should have the opportunity of exploring the world and play freely.

With our summer program, we take a stand against violence by taking them to safe places where they can be themselves and enjoy all fun that comes with the summer. On our first trip we visited Parque Omar, a nearby park where they flew kites all day and took a brief class of road safety for children.

Lastly, we conclude the Summer Program with a hike to the 654-foot tall of Ancon Hill that overlooks Panama City. We enjoyed a fun day outside while we admired the beautiful view from the place where our national flag relies. This trip made us appreciate the diverse fauna and flora that inhabits natural areas in our country.

Remember to follow us on our Social Networks to get the latest news about our programs. Thank you!

Almost there!
Almost there!
On top of Ancon where our national flag is located
On top of Ancon where our national flag is located
Hurry up!
Hurry up!
Enlaces and the program coordinator
Enlaces and the program coordinator
Students from Nuestra Senora de la Merced
Students from Nuestra Senora de la Merced
Advanced students in the closing act
Advanced students in the closing act

Once again, The Anita Villalaz theatre displayed the talent of our Enlaces students. The show was titled Reflections/Reflexes, based on the work of duets and mirror and manipulation technique that our children were elaborating since March.

The show featured two acts. The first piece started with a group of students from intermediate to advanced level, based on the preformer’s skills on stage, using the location's stronger points when developing a choreographic composition. By knowing strategic points on stage, the choreographer can be more effective in communicating an idea. Followed by this piece, the beginners level act was introduced by a solo from one of the intermediate level student. Next, a special group of ten students from the ‘Instituto de Nuestra Señora de la Merced’ (school where we teach contemporary dance once a week to 157 children from 4th to 6th grade), showed us a structured improvisation created in situ based on certain guidelines and commands previously established; this was their very first time on stage. At last, to conclude the first act, the intermediate and advanced levels delighted us with their own creation based on the study of some of the qualities of movement proposed by Rudolf Laban for dance, placed in context with the support of theater and usage of their voices.

The second act, "Retaking the flight" was a piece directed by Professor José Leonardo Amaya, where 10 students of all levels selected by audition, worked on one of the longest pieces that our program Enlaces has done and it showed an emerging level of maturity and appropriation of dance by our students. With music by L’Arpeggiata & Christina Pluhar, David Holmes, Javier Navarrete, M83 and a poem of Mario Benedetti, our children worked on the basis of crisis management, change adaptation and the synergy that is created as a group that is supported and in which individuality is reflected and evolves.

The word ‘Reflection’ has many meanings, Reflection as a refracted image, Reflection as a spontaneous and involuntary movement and Reflection as a spark, shine and energy that emanates from something wonderful and full of light. Reflections, and its various meanings, was the perfect name because it summarised the work done by Enlaces. Over the years, we have seen our children grow, mature and improve not only their artistic skills but also find their place in the world. They are a reflection of our dreams, fears and success. They made us look into the mirror of our humanity. With this Enlaces show we shared the one of most beautiful thing about being human, the satisfaction of a job well done.

Beginners group performing
Beginners group performing
'Instituto de Nuestra Senora de la Merced'
Our students working together
Our students working together
Our students making their last appearance
Our students making their last appearance
Thank you!
Thank you!

Links:

Juan dancing with one of his teachers at a show
Juan dancing with one of his teachers at a show

When we started Enlaces (At Risk Children Dance for Social Change), our mission encompassed more than simply dance and theatre. We longed to be a light for our students, in order to guide them to a better economic and social situation.

That was five years ago. Enlaces was young and the coordinators dreamed of a program that could reach the fame of international projects of the same quality. This year, more than any other time, we have living, tangible proof of the real impact that this initiative can have.

This proof has a name: Juan.

A dedicated student, a hard worker, and a young man with unbreakable values, Juan has been with us from the start. With incredible talent and an insatiable hunger for success, this young boy from Santa Ana has become famous in circles outside of Calicanto. In 2012 he was selected to participate in the nationwide Panamanian show “Little Giants” and between 2012 and 2013 he participated in a series of learning workshops organized by Prisma Festival.

In 2013, he participated in a conference called Youth Creation for Peace, organized by DanzÁrea, where he placed third.

All these achievements culminated in a gold medal win at an international competition organized by Danza Activa in 2014, in the Solo – Youth category.

Juan has come very far from his beginnings in the program 5 years ago. In many ways, he is representative of our mission. He is a young man that lives in difficult conditions but that benefits from the unyielding support of a grandmother who has served as both father and mother to him and who has always encouraged him to follow his dreams, no matter the socioeconomic context.

From April 20th to 24th of this year, Juan traveled to Cartagena to participate in intensive workshops with the prestigious Compañía Periferia and El Colegio del Cuerpo (The School of the Body.) We cannot stress what a huge achievement this is for him and the program at large.

The latter institution provided us with the basic blueprint for Enlaces (with some minor changes.) At The School of the Body, the teachers prioritize the value of the students’ bodies, human dignity, emotional development, and the balance between the physical and the psychological. All these characteristics are of upmost importance in Calicanto.

You could say that Enlaces is a descendant of this academy. And like sea turtle offspring returning to the beach of their birth to lay their own eggs, the cycle that started in 2010 comes full circle.

Enlaces returns to Cartagena with one of our best students to recognize that, although Juan will keep advancing and growing, he has now become the kind of dancer that can hold his own in the company of professionals five or six years older, all within the walls of an internationally renowned academy.

But the connection is also personal. José Leonardo, an Enlaces teacher, comes directly from this school. His story is very similar to Juan, with slightly different but equally important challenges.

José Leonardo’s success is an example to his student and they both see themselves reflected in the other. They represent two different stages of one success story and we are sure that, given a few years, Juan will achieve his dreams in the same manner his teacher did.

Juan tells us that he wants to be an architect one day and wants to study abroad. He says that dance has been an outlet through which he’s been able to freely and fearlessly express his feelings and his identity, without fear of being judged.

The Foundation is proud of this young man. He represents a reality that, in a world full of cynicism and pessimism, is sometimes hard to accept: anything is possible if you follow your dreams, work hard, and leave fear behind.

If you want to help Juan with the costs of his recent trip and his dancing partner Raul with his upcoming travel arrangements, visit Help Juan and Raul Dance for a Future, our microproject under "At Risk Children Dance for Social Change."

*The names in this report have been changed to respect the privacy of our beneficiaries.

Juan dancing
Juan dancing
Juan at the end-of-the-year recital
Juan at the end-of-the-year recital
Juan at a ballet recital based on Disney
Juan at a ballet recital based on Disney's Frozen
An Enlaces Parents Club Couple
An Enlaces Parents Club Couple

On the 24th of March, Fundación Calicanto’s Enlaces program hosted a Puberty and Adolescence Workshop for the parents of our child dancers. 18 of 21 parents attended. This might not seem like such a significant figure, but it wouldn’t have been impossible to gather these many parents together in one place when we started this social initiative five years ago. Those who follow Enlaces closely know that our program deals primarily with prevention for at-risk children. We offer them a safe space in which to practice dance as well as partake in other artistic avenues that their young minds would otherwise not prioritize. We also provide them with supplementary schoolwork aid and counseling and we follow through with their respective academic institutions in order to ensure their continued mental development.

And yet all this can be undone if they leave the Foundation and arrive at a home with parents who prioritize other issues over their children’s continued education. For this reason, our outreach must be larger. If we are to influence the community in a positive way, we must obviously focus on its future contributing members. But we must also focus on their families. The increased interest in their children’s extracurricular activities is proof that our web of influence is growing. Now, when an Enlaces child returns home after a valuable afternoon of learning and dancing, they are greeted by parents that are perhaps a bit more interested in their endeavors. Instead of questions like “Why do you waste all that time at the dancing school?” they might hear something along the lines of “What did you learn today?”

Our older students are benefitting directly from the aforementioned workshop and from our new focus on adolescence. They are establishing balanced relationships with their parents, relationships in which both parties understand the importance of freedom but also the necessity for boundaries. Since this is such an important and difficult period for children, we want to avoid an excessive separation between the parental unit and the child. Just because they might seem like they want to distance themselves, these children (like all children) need a parent emotionally present to guide them through a scary but exciting new phase of their lives.

Our dancing lessons, study aid, psychological support, therapy sessions, and values don’t stay within the four walls of our Enlaces classroom. They can’t. Our beneficiaries include everyone linked to the children we are helping shape into adults. When we give them the tools to better their own circumstances, we must also give them the blueprints to rebuild connections between themselves, their families, and their communities that may have been lost along the way. And in some cases, we must teach them how to build bridges that might not have existed at all.

Workshop Leader Helps Parents with Activity
Workshop Leader Helps Parents with Activity
Enlaces Parents Enjoy our Workshop
Enlaces Parents Enjoy our Workshop
Group Hug with our Enlaces Coordinator
Group Hug with our Enlaces Coordinator
 

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Organization Information

Fundacion Calicanto

Location: Panama City, Panama - Panama
Website: http:/​/​www.fundacioncalicanto.org
Project Leader:
Dalys Rodriguez
Panama, Panama

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