Butler University’s chapter of Movement Exchange developed a partnership a local program in Indianapolis called Dream Academy. Dream Academy is an elementary school after-school program that focuses on three pillars: “skill-building, character-building, and dream-building” (“About the Dream”). Movement Exchange at Butler has supplemented this program by teaching two dance classes every week for an hour in the fall of 2015. I have been teaching one class a week since the end of September.
When I first contacted the director of the program, she explained her desire to expose the children of Dream Academy to dance. The children had no formal dance training, which put them at a disadvantage in high school when they participated in dance auditions for school events. The children had very strong desires to be involved in dance, but became discouraged when they were not able to pick up steps. Her hope was for the members of Movement Exchange to expose the children of Dream Academy to many styles of dance to equip them with more skills for the future. In addition to explaining her hopes for our dance classes, the director also explained the living situations of many of the children. A number of them were raised by single parents or relatives, due to incarcerated family members. She stressed the difficult lives these children had led in a short amount of time.
While I have only worked with these children for a few months, I have noticed a tremendous transformation in them. During our first class, most of the children were sheepish and unwilling to participate. Now, they are eager to invite their classmates in to watch the dances they have learned. The boys were particularly self-conscious and would not dance to their fullest abilities, but now they are excited to see us each week. One of the boys cried and left during our first class, but now you can see his potential as a dancer. The girls were also shy about dancing at the beginning, but now they beg us to repeat the dances. Their confidence in their dancing as well as talking to the Movement Exchange members has grown as well. Their personalities are now shining through, as opposed to them staring at the floor and begrudgingly moving around. I am amazed at how far they have come in only a few months, I look forward to their progress after another semester of work!