This community post is from Movemeant Foundation's first-ever grant recipient, Performing Ourselves, located in Madison, Wisconsin. Read more about their organization and how you, our supporters and donors, helped to impact hundreds of lives in this challenged community.
By Kate Corby
In the summer of 2010, my ‘little sister’ (of Big Brothers Big Sisters) needed help with her middle school registration. Without issue, we got her into the right classes, but when we attempted to sign her up for after school sports, we both became enormously deflated. There were all but two options for sixth-grade girls: tennis and wrestling.
Needless to say, I became determined to create a space in which she and her peers could be active during what we know to be tumultuous middle school years. I became determined to provide her and girls just like her in low income communities throughout Madison, WI with an opportunity to do their favorite thing -- dance.
With the help of Girls Inc. and Mariah LeFeber, a fellow instructor in the UW-Madison Dance Department, not to mention a board-certified dance/movement therapist, we initiated our first pilot program to get girls dancing.
With resounding success our first year, our pilot program grew into a citywide collaboration with seven community centers serving approximately hundreds of girls in grades K-8 known as Performing Ourselves.
In May of 2015, we presented our third annual showcase, “I Dance Because,” in the prestigious Madision institution Lathrop Hall, the home of the first college dance program in the country. This was made possible through the generosity of the many donors and fundraisers of Movemeant Foundation.
As an organization that is built on the idea that movement is a platform for self-expression, Performing Ourselves employs undergraduate dance students to teach dance and wellness curriculum in local community centers. Our program combines principles from dance education and dance/movement therapy to empower girls in the areas of embodiment, self-concept and resiliency.
Our youth participants are ethnically diverse and come from households at or below the poverty line. Throughout our 30 weeks of classes each academic year, our program teachers develop excellent professional skills in teaching, mentorship and community development, along with powerful, emotional connections with their students.
Dance has the power to change lives and impact communities, and every child has the right to dance. Sitting in the audience earlier this month I was deeply humbled by the beauty and strength of girls and young women dancing together in celebration of their bodies and identities, knowing, “We did this. We made this happen.”
About Kate Corby, Co-Director of Performing Ourselves
Kate Corby is an Associate Professor of Dance at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and the co-director of Performing Ourselves, a community dance program for girls. Click here for more information on Performing Ourselves.
Photographs by Hailey Wilson