Street Dance Culture
Hundreds of teens and young adults, aged 14-24, wander the streets looking for 'something to do'. Born to troubled families or from 'good' homes, whether educational program dropouts or still in school, these youth are at risk of becoming involved with alcohol, drugs and violent behavior.
‘Street Dance Culture’ invites at-risk youth to gather around street culture - dance, music and art - through breakdance, hip hop and other styles of wordless expression. This rehabilitative tool, independent of language, race or social status, creates an urban culture that prevents self-destruction and violence.
The program emphasizes the development of street culture with those who find themselves in it, using places of gathering and conflict as unique opportunities for therapeutic interventions.
The beginning - The 'Checkmate' Breakdance pilot group, city center Jerusalem | Summer 2015
Creating urban culture - Operating groups in locations known as gathering points for at-risk youth to make contact and create a positive 'magnet' in areas characterized by violence and crime.
Rehabilitation and integration - Participants improve their physical abilities, social skills, self-discipline and self-esteem, learning to work as a team directing energy towards a positive experience. These attributes, gained through physical work, are transformed into everyday values. Positive identity leads the dancers to become involved in additional activities that further integrate them into the surrounding community.
Two weekly meetings with professional instructors - dance teachers, community counselors and therapists:
Closed studio session - Two hours in a dance studio with professional dance teachers and one hour of educational social-skills content with community counselors.
Open outdoor session - Three hour open dance circle in a defined outdoor gathering area with the counselors.
March 2015 - Breakdance pilot group was launched in Jerusalem city center in partnership with the Jerusalem Municipality Youth At-Risk Division.
August 2015 - Negative, mocking individuals transformed into the Checkmate group that works and performs together. All dancers are involved in a 'give back to society' rehabilitation program and when they dance downtown - violence decreases drastically.
January 2016 - Building on the successes of the Checkmate pilot group, the Checkmate girls Hip-Hop pilot group is formed. Life on the margin presents particular challenges for girls. This group is specially designed for them.
Plans for the Future - Becoming city and country wide, while opening new groups in:
Socioeconomically challenged neighborhoods - emphasis on areas with large Ethiopian communities that are challenged by cultural differences, economic survival and with integration into mainstream society. Lack of social acceptance, frustration and despair can bring teenagers and young adults to become at-risk street youth.
Areas of conflict - in Jerusalem and other cities around Israel.
How can you help?
We are seeking supporters to join our work which is proving
to be significant in changing lives by giving at-risk youth the
gift of dance as a mechanism for transformation.
G.N.T Dance instructors: Pesach (Pascha) Balitsky,
Marvin Casey, Shira Mills, Amiad Ricklin.
Youth At-Risk Division Staff: Gali Barnea
Project Coordination: Yael Turner-Grossman, Aryeh Gottlieb
Wertheimer Sport, Jerusalem Branch, Tomer Gavriel, Manager -
donation of shoes for all dancers.
Asaf Electronics - donation of music amplifier
Eyal Hirsch, professional photography - link
A year later - The 'Checkmate' Breakdance pilot group, city center Jerusalem | Summer 2016
The Checkmate in an End-of-Summer show | August 2015 | Photo: Eyal Hirsch