Most second generation Ethiopian immigrants still face challenges with economic survival, cultural exclusion and social barriers, all things that can cause frustration and despair. Life in disadvantaged areas distances children and teenagers from extracurricular activities such as dance, when it is precisely these children who can benefit from the opportunity for empowerment and growth that physical activity can provide.
The 'Sheba Dance' program integrates girls of Ethiopian descent, aged 8-18, who have been referred by municipal social services or school counselors, into professional dance classes with the aim of improving their self-esteem and encouraging social interaction with peers that they may not have met otherwise.
Dance Sheba crowdfunding, June 2015
Social hierarchy changes and is redefined in dance classes. Socio-economics, race, formal education, or verbal skills are no longer an issue. It's all about personal ability. Dance develops creativity, enhances concentration and raises self-value. Through dance, we instill values of determination, perseverance, teamwork, and provide methods for dealing with frustration and challenges. Standing on stage, after months of work in the studio, receiving applause from an appreciative audience, the girls gain a sense of personal achievement that stays with them in all that they do.
Empowerment - Participation requires discipline, consistency, and the development of stamina. Through bodywork, the girls also strengthen their psyches, learn to stand up with strength, purpose, and confidence. Perseverance and ongoing work enable the young dancers to realize both short and long-term goals.
Integration - This positive identity helps the participants become involved in other studio and school activities, daring to make connections with new friends from different backgrounds but with a mutual interest - dance.
The young dancers are integrated in regular professional dance classes in a local dance studio. They are free to choose any classes offered at the studio - Tap, Modern Dance, Jazz, Hip-Hop or others. The program is accompanied by a local community worker, who is the communicator between the studio and the young dancers' families.
Report on Activities:
Since the summer of 2013 we had about 60 girls dancing through the project. Some are still dancing in the Studio or in school amature groups. All report a life change through a unique experience.
How can you help?
We are seeking to expand the project, in partnership with dance studios around the country.
Contact us for further details.
Coordinator: Avital Amar and Ayelet Hill
Dance teachers: Marvin Casey, Taylor McWeing, Idan Tal, Itamar Tagania, Maya Hemed, Noa Turner
Ms. Ruth Mason
In memory of beloved Sheila Fox