Expanding a Movement!

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My Journey Through Everybody Dance!

December 7, 2017

I am an everybody dance! alumna who is very passionate about dance and who had a remarkable journey in the program. To begin with, it took quite a while to get into the program. I applied to the lottery each year that went by and finally got in my junior year of high school. Socializing was not easy, but the environment that the program created helped me warm up to everyone. This is one special thing about everybody dance!, but there is more. In the program, I completed my training in multiple fascinating dance styles, which included ballet, modern, jazz, high school dance lab, and I was also a member of the performing company.

At everybody dance! I had the opportunity to experience wonderful field trips and amazing performances by professional dance companies, which inspired and motivated me. There is also mentor match, where high school students can be mentored to become successful college students and pursue a career of their dreams. Students even have the opportunity to become volunteers as dance teacher assistants, which is a great way to learn how to teach the younger students and to become young leaders. The program additionally provides performance opportunities such as in-class showings as well as the annual recital that takes place at a big theater in Hollywood – The Ricardo Montalban Theatre.

The opportunities this program provides help students grow and become successful people. Everybody dance! has had a great impact on many students and their families and is a safe place for everyone. There is more meaning to everybody dance! than it just being an after-school dance program. What makes this program so special is not just the opportunities students are exposed to, but also what they can take from the program. There is more that can be learned in the program than simple dance movements.

For instance, students learn discipline by learning how to become responsible. Responsibility is an important factor at everybody dance!. And students learn it by being on time, coming prepared with their uniform, and being ready to dance, and this responsibility helps them become independent, successful students. Dance is also a good source of stress relief and can help a student’s academic progress. The great environment this program maintains helps the students a lot and the tremendous number of opportunities this program provides for youth is just unbelievable. To me everybody dance! is a safe place where students learn how to be confident and to express themselves through movement. To learn more about everybody dance!, click HERE

I graduated high school in 2015 and ended my time as a student at everybody dance! in 2016. I then went on to college and am currently attending California State University of Los Angeles majoring in Child Development. While in college, I continued in the program as a student volunteer assisting the office registrar at The Gabriella Foundation’s Townhouse site. I had the chance to engage with new families and provide general information about the program. After that, I was given the opportunity to become a college intern in the program through the LA County Arts Commission (LACAC). As an LACAC intern, I gained knowledge on how to work for a non-profit organization and learned how to manage multiple responsibilities. I helped with administration and, with support from the Artistic Director, Tina Banchero, I was able to create an art curriculum and lead my own art class in the everybody dance! Summer Dance camp. Being able to experience teaching an art class was just phenomenal. When Summer Dance camp ended, The Gabriella Foundation offered me part-time work to help launch a new after-school dance site at Dr. Maya Angelou High School in South Los Angeles, where I assisted in the dance studio and with administration when needed. I’m still working there and just love it!

My transition from being a student to becoming an everybody dance! intern and then staff member has not only helped me understand how a non-profit organization works, but has also taught me the importance of giving back to my community. When I first began to work at everybody dance! everything was different from when I was a student. Looking at the program from a different perspective I was able to understand that everything everybody dance! Teaching Artists do for the program is because they care for the students and the program itself. Being able to see firsthand everyone’s input makes me very proud to have been a part of this program and to now be a staff member. Everything this program does for the community is unforgettable and will always impact current and future students in a positive way.

~ Ivys De Leon M.

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