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Massachusetts Dance Community Performs for Haiti

In response to the January 12, 2010 magnitude 7.0 earthquake that hit Haiti at 21:53:10 UTC, causing severe devastation in the Port-au-Prince area, Massachusetts dancers have taken to the stage, donating their time and talents, hoping to provide monetary assistance to survivors - who already live in one of the poorest regions of the planet. With medical supplies delayed, masses of injured people dying from wounds sustained in the initial quake and its aftershocks, lack of food, water, clothing, and shelter, and looting and violence erupting amidst the suffering, there is plentiful subject matter for artists and humanitarians, the world round.

Since the nature of dance is physical, produced by movements of the body, generally to rhythms and melodies of music, historically, the genre of dance embodies or expresses ideas, emotions, or tells a story. Keenly tuned to Haiti’s socio-emotional climate, slated dances choreographed by highly reputable dancers of our Commonwealth were true to heart, steeped in exemplary elocution, emotional expression, and laced with strong social interactions among dancers and their audiences.

Two of the greatest, socially conscionable dance troupes that I know both performed a fundraiser on Saturday, January 23rd, from 6 -10:30 pm, a the “Dance for the World Community Benefit for Earthquake Relief in Haiti” at The Sanctuary Theatre, 400 Harvard Street, Cambridge, at Jose Mateo’s Ballet Theatre (http://www.ballettheatre.org)


First, the The Ritmo en Acción youth dance troupe http://www.hydesquare.org/programs/RitmoenAccion.html, Boston’s premiere teen and children’s Latin dance company, which began in 2001, through the vision and hard work of a teen leader with the Hyde Square Task Force, has grown from a group of six teenage dancers to an dance education and performance organization, serving over 300 teens and children. With the help of instructors from Hacha y Machete Dance Stylists, Boston’s premier adult Latin dance company, Ritmo en Acción has gained local and national attention, including “The Coming Up Taller Awards,” which is a national President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities initiative with the Institute of Museum and Library Services, National Endowment for the Arts, and the National Endowment for the Humanities, directed at organizations that “showcase cultural excellence and enhance the availability of out-of-school arts and humanities programs to children, especially those that reach underserved children and youth.” http://www.hydesquare.org/news_and_events/highlights/CUT06/CUT06_article.html


"It's about using the arts and humanities to develop that discipline, that awareness, getting your life organized," said Kimber Craine, director of program initiatives at the President's Committee for the Arts and the Humanities, which oversees the award. "The arts and humanities, if you want to do them, you have to become disciplined, you have to become focused." "This is our reason for being and doing the work that we do . . . to help combat these issues," said Rodriguez-Andújar. "The work we do is so crucial and so important to keep kids off the street, to give them a purpose, to get them involved, to help them see a bigger picture." http://www.boston.com/news/local/massachusetts/articles/2008/01/28/in_step_out_of_trouble, This socially connected and directed youth-dance-troupe, through its dance moves and socially targeted programming, has incredible energy and empathy for the misfortunes of the homeless, injured, and compromised people of Haiti.

Next, founded in 1994 by Artistic Director Shaumba-Yandje Dibinga, OrigiNation, Incorporated, “is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization that specializes in implementing innovative and dynamic programs, which motivate, challenge, and inspire youth to be the best they can be. Special emphasis is placed on teaching young people between the ages of 5 through 18 the importance of self-respect, health, nutrition, education, self-esteem, and the extent of African influences on various contemporary art forms.” OrigiNation serves 200 young people annually, providing youth of all levels with training in multiple dance forms, public speaking, and martial arts. OrigiNation also implements special initiatives to raise our students' awareness about pertinent social issues, and the Haitian disaster is a calamity of such magnitude, these performers have no difficulty expressing their thoughts, feelings, and telling a story of African-American dance and living http://www.originationinc.org.

With a sister country suffering a catastrophe beyond imagining…”an island nation battered by every manner of natural and man-made calamity – hurricanes, landslides, deforestation, HIV/AIDS, military coups, political corruption and a crippling debt-load that began with a bloody war of emancipation over 200 years ago” http://www.canada.com/news/Digging+deep+Haiti/2474434/story.html, Massachusetts dancers and dance companies, beginning with Jose Mateo’s Ballet Theatre, were quick to respond and organize this fund-raiser, which also includes performances by Jose Mateo Ballet Theatre’s YouthWorks, Lawrence Performing Fine Arts High School, Boston Youth Moves, Corey Amaral Band, The Embraceables, Gifrants, Nini + Ben, and Of an Oak.

At least one other dance centered Haiti fund-raiser is planned, so come, join us - elaborate in the kinesthetic energy of Massachusetts dancers, on Saturday, January 30th, 9:00 pm, a "Salsa for Haiti" fundraiser will be held at Villa Victoria Center for the Arts (www.villavictoriaarts.org), 85 W Newton St, Boston.  Entertainment includes a full night of salsa music and dancing, featuring Edwin Pabon and Orchestra, CincoSon, Yarina, I-Level, and Carlos de leon y su conjunto.  A small donation of $10.00 is requested.Call: (617)927-1742 to reserve seats.

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