News / Arts & Entertainment

Dance Offers Path to Education for Street Children, Orphans

Dance Offers Path to Education for Street Children, Orphansi
X
February 18, 2014 5:15 PM
An American dance company has an unusual mission: to teach the art and discipline of dance to orphans and street children in Rwanda, Guinea and Bosnia-Herzegovina, as the first step toward furthering the children's education. VOA's Carolyn Weaver reports.
Dance Offers Path to Education for Street Children, Orphans
Carolyn Weaver
Dancer LaMar Baylor can most often be found in New York performing in The Lion King musical on Broadway.

However, since 2011, he's also spent weeks in Kigali, Rwanda, teaching dance to boys living on the street, as part of an effort by the Rebecca Davis Dance Company.
 
"These children, their lives are nothing we can begin to even fathom," Baylor said. "They have been through things that no one should ever have to go through. They are genocide survivors. A lot of them have been incarcerated, they have been prostituted, they are street children, they have lost all of their family."
 
Dance lessons offer the children structured learning and self-expression they've never experienced before.

"You learn self-discipline, you learn how to conduct yourself in a classroom setting, you are able to express emotions through the choreography," he explained. "These things don’t just apply in a physical aspect. They also apply mentally and emotionally."

Off the street
 
Founder and director Rebecca Davis conceived the idea for the project after visiting Rwanda in 2008.

"I met a whole bunch of street kids who were dancing, doing exactly what I love to do," she said.  

It occurred to Davis that dance could be used to get the children off the street and into a safe center that could be used as a springboard for further education.
Rebecca Davis and LaMar Baylor (seated left in white) teach ballet to street children in Kigali, Rwanda. (Courtesy Rebecca Davis Dance Company)Rebecca Davis and LaMar Baylor (seated left in white) teach ballet to street children in Kigali, Rwanda. (Courtesy Rebecca Davis Dance Company)
"When you start to play music in Rwanda, these kids come out of nowhere and they enter the center," she said. "And it's because of dance that they have a way of exchanging their physicality, their survival skills that they learn on the street, and their strength, into something that's actually artistic and aesthetic, and that starts them on the path toward mental development."

Educational opportunities
 
Once a child masters the basics of attending class and following instruction, the student is enrolled in information and technology classes.
 
"Then, after we see the IT skills develop in the children, we find sponsors for the most successful, so they can go to boarding school and reenter the formal education system," Davis said.
 
All of the students in Rwanda are boysfew girls live freely on the street there, according to Davis. Those who win scholarshipsabout 30 so farare sent to the Sonrise Boarding School in Musanze, about two hours from Kigali.

Reaching more children
 
While the largest program is in Rwanda, Davis has also set up programs in Guinea, where relations among ethnic groups are tense, and through an orphanage in Bosnia-Herzegovinaanother country recovering from genocide.

"I was amazed to find that dance was once again a way of bringing together different groups, in this case, Bosnian, Serb and Croat," Davis said. "All of a sudden, your language, your religion, your ethnic background has nothing to do with the fact that we’re doing pliés and pirouettes and sauts de chat."

Students in Guinea and Bosnia-Herzegovina, both boys and girls, also take English language classes, with the goal of making them more employable.

In all, about 2,000 children in the three countries have been enrolled since the program began in 2010.
 
LaMar Baylor knows from his own experience how the discipline and self-expression of dance can be the springboard to a better life. He is from Camden, New Jersey, one of the poorest, most violent cities in the United States.
 
"Growing up there, if I did not have dance, I'm really not sure what I would have become," he said. "I was a child who took a long time to find out what exactly was for me. And when I found dance, it honestly saved my life."

You May Like

Brutality Eroding IS Financial Support

Director of National Intelligence James Clapper says IS's penchant for publicizing beheadings, other brutal forms of punishment hurts group’s bottom line More

Studies: Climate Change a Factor in Disasters in Syria, California

The studies point to the possibility of clear and present dangers from a threat often considered to be far in the future More

Video Afghan Refugees Complain of Harassment in Pakistan

Afghan officials and human rights organizations assert that Pakistani authorities are using deadly attack at school in Peshawar as pretext to push out Afghan refugees More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Kerry Seeks Assurances of Russian Non-Interference in Ukrainei
X
March 03, 2015 3:11 AM
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry has told his Russian counterpart, Sergei Lavrov, that his country could face further consequences to what he called its “already strained economy” if Moscow does not fully comply with a cease-fire in Ukraine. The two met, on Monday, on the sidelines of a U.N. Human Rights Council meeting in Geneva, where Kerry outlined human rights violations in Russian-annexed Crimea and eastern Ukraine. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports from Geneva.
Video

Video Kerry Seeks Assurances of Russian Non-Interference in Ukraine

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry has told his Russian counterpart, Sergei Lavrov, that his country could face further consequences to what he called its “already strained economy” if Moscow does not fully comply with a cease-fire in Ukraine. The two met, on Monday, on the sidelines of a U.N. Human Rights Council meeting in Geneva, where Kerry outlined human rights violations in Russian-annexed Crimea and eastern Ukraine. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports from Geneva.
Video

Video Smartphones May Help in Diagnosing HIV

Diagnosing infections such as HIV requires expensive clinical tests, making the procedure too costly for many poor patients or those living in remote areas. But a new technology called lab-on-a-chip may make the tests more accessible to many. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Afghan Refugees Complain of Harassment in Pakistan

Afghan officials have expressed concern over reports of a crackdown on Afghan refugees in Pakistan following the Peshawar school attack in December. Reports of mass arrests and police harassment coupled with fear of an uncertain future are making life difficult for a population that fled its homeland to escape war. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports from Islamabad.
Video

Video Ukrainian Volunteers Prepare to Defend Mariupol

Despite the ongoing ceasefire in Ukraine, soldiers in the city of Mariupol fear that pro-Russian separatists may be getting ready to attack. The separatists must take or encircle the city if they wish to gain land access to Crimea, which was annexed by Russia early last year. But Ukrainian forces, many of them volunteers, say they are determined to defend it. Patrick Wells reports from Mariupol.
Video

Video Moscow Restaurants Suffer in Bad Economy, Look for Opportunity

As low oil prices and Western sanctions force Russia's economy into recession, thousands of Moscow restaurants are expected to close their doors. Restaurant owners face rents tied to foreign currency, while rising food prices mean Russians are spending less when they dine out. One entrepreneur in Moscow has started a dinner kit delivery service for those who want to cook at home to save money but not skimp on quality. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video US, Cuba Report Progress in Latest Talks to Restore Ties

The United States and Cuba say they have made progress in the second round of talks on restoring diplomatic relations more than 50 years after breaking off ties. Delegations from both sides met in Washington on Friday to work on opening embassies in Havana and Washington and iron out key obstacles to historic change. VOA’s Mary Alice Salinas reports from the State Department.
Video

Video Presidential Hopefuls Battle for Conservative Hearts and Minds

One after another, presumptive Republican presidential contenders auditioned for conservative support this week at the Conservative Political Action Conference held outside Washington. The rhetoric was tough as a large field of potential candidates tried to woo conservative support with red-meat attacks on President Barack Obama and Democrats in Congress. VOA Political Columnist Jim Malone takes a look.
Video

Video NYC's Restaurant Week: An Economic Boom in Fine Dining

New Yorkers take pride in setting world trends — in fashion, the arts and fine dining. The city’s famous biannual Restaurant Week plays a significant role in a booming tourism industry that sustains 359,000 jobs and generates $61 billion in yearly revenue. VOA's Ramon Taylor reports.
Video

Video Brookhaven at Cutting Edge of US Energy Research

Issues like the Keystone XL pipeline, fracking and instability in the Middle East are driving debate in the U.S. about making America energy independent. Recently, the American Energy Innovation Council urged Congress and the White House to make expanded energy research a priority. One beneficiary of increased energy spending would be the Brookhaven National Lab, where clean, renewable, efficient energy is the goal. VOA's Bernard Shusman reports.
Video

Video Southern US Cities Preserve Civil Rights Heritage to Boost Tourism

There has been a surge of interest in the American civil rights movement of the 1950s and '60s, thanks in part to the Hollywood motion picture "Selma." Five decades later, communities in the South are embracing the dark chapters of their past with hopes of luring tourism dollars. VOA's Chris Simkins reports.
Video

Video Deep Under Antarctic Ice Sheet, Life!

With the end of summer in the Southern hemisphere, the Antarctic research season is over. Scientists from Northern Illinois University are back in their laboratory after a 3-month expedition on the Ross Ice Shelf, the world’s largest floating ice sheet. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, they hope to find clues to explain the dynamics of the rapidly melting ice and its impact on sea level rise.
Video

Video Lao Dam Project Runs Into Opposition

A Lao dam project on a section of the Mekong River is drawing opposition from local fishermen, international environmental groups and neighboring countries. VOA's Say Mony visited the region to investigate the concerns. Colin Lovett narrates.

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More

New in Music Alley

 

 

 

 

Country-pop singer, Lizzie Sider sits down with "Border Crossings" host Larry London to perform songs from her new album, “Butterfly,” and to talk about her anti-bullying tour.

Blogs

African Music Treasures