Dance is much more than a trivial pastime to children, especially in the Washington Metropolis where a program called CityDance sprung up and captured elementary school students’ heart and joy. CityDance Dream is a program that recruits hundreds of grade 1~8 children around the D.C. Metropolitan area and through an intensive workout during 32 weeks of rigorous practice, puts together a performance in the Verizon Center for the Washington Wizards half-time show.
Since the early 1990s, CityDance has taught more than one hundred thousand students who have benefited through this community outreach initiative. Through venues like the ‘Dream’ program, CityDance aims to provide free dance education to all underserved neighborhoods in Washington.
It isn’t just about fun and games though, community directors and teachers who aid with the program say that despite the dance aspect, it is a difficult experience for many students when they first join in because of communication barriers. With children and youth from all areas and schools, meeting and finding other people to acquaint and socialize could be problematic. Some children feel ‘threatened’ by the unfamiliar faces and breaking down that barrier is quite a challenge.
Although there is an obstacle to overcome, there is an element that makes it easier—teamwork. At the end of the dance, the kids must choreograph their own dance to be performed at the Verizon Center, thus inducing teamwork. This clever strategy presses knowledge and a sense of pride and accomplishment that the teachers and community program directors are happy and eager to provide them with.
This extraordinary program enthuses and encourages dance throughout the area for all children and youth. Kids have traditionally continued to return as a part of this program and feel a sense of belonging in the world of dance.
In the words of the instructors “All they want to do is dance.” And dance they shall.
City Dance also offers specialized dance courses at the Strathmore Music Center.
Article by Jozette Allah-Mensah, staff writer at the MoCo Student
Image courtesy of the District of Columbia Public Schools