Cultures everywhere have evoked the power of group spirit, enacting in dance what they hope to see take place in their lives. It is a power that can renew, inspire, teach, heal.
I run for all women and girls to feel comfortable
I run for my family affected by immigration
I run for self-love
I run to end racism
I run for all people in the world to be safe
I run for peace and happiness around the world
~ Students from ASPIRE Middle School
With a grant award from Tamalpa ArtCorps, Claudia Cuentas and Jahan Khalighi created a project called Dances for Change to bring Planetary Dance to youth in schools across the Bay Area. In these times of great challenge and despair, they believe the Planetary Dance can be a meaningful way to support youth in feeling a sense of belonging, strengthening community, and supporting resilience.
“The message out there continues to be, feel powerless. The message that we’re bringing forward is feel powerful. If all of us do what we can, we are doing such important work and the possibility of change is…alive. And it is alive and it is happening and it is changing.”
Jahan Khalighi“Each one of our voices, each one of our struggles and our families and our communities matter, and we have a ritual that can affirm that in the face of the challenges that exist right now. This program is a living exploration of how can a ritual like this that’s place based, that’s resilience based, that’s community based, serve youth.”
This fall we worked with ninety 7th graders at ASPIRE middle school in Richmond, CA, where we facilitated six weeks of movement and expressive arts based workshops, each session focusing on a different aspect of the Planetary Dance experience, culminating in a Planetary Dance ritual with the entire 7th grade along with the students, teachers and mentors. The theme of this year’s Planetary Dance at ASPIRE middle school was centered around issues of Health, Justice and Peace.
Many of the students who participated in this Dances for Change program reflected to us how they felt more unified as a community, energized by a feeling that they can run for something that matters to them and inspired by being a part of a community ritual where everyone’s dedication and prayer was respected and encouraged.To view a video on their project click here.
We are excited to bring the Planetary Dance experience to more youth and collaborate with different communities to co-create resilience based rituals for collective empowerment and health. We are tremendously grateful for the support of Tamalpa ArtsCorps in making our pilot program possible.