DEA - Youth Dance Program
On July 27th, the DEA Youth Dance Program was invited by Dizzy Feet Foundation to perform for National Dance Day at The Kennedy Center in Washington, DC (as seen in photo 1) and Grand Park in downtown Los Angeles (as seen in photos 2 – 3). Launched in 2012 by Nigel Lythgoe, National Dance Day is an annual celebration that takes place on the last Saturday in July. The grassroots campaign encourages Americans to incorporate dance into their lives. Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton, a long-time proponent of healthy lifestyles, introduced the National Dance Day resolution, making the day dedicated to dance education and physical fitness across the U.S. an official act of Congress. In Los Angeles, the DEA Youth Dancers took the stage with an outstanding introduction from Adam Shankman, So You Think You Can Dance Judge and Producer. The students performed in front of hundreds representing the DEA Youth Dance Program and Educational Foundation in a stand against drug use and violence. In Washington, D.C., the Dizzy Feet Foundation and the Kennedy Center presented free dance performances, dance lessons and interactive dances on the Center's South Plaza. Professional and youth dance companies combined different genres of music in an hour-long performance to be streamed live on the Kennedy Center website. The DEA Youth Dance Program was elated and honored to be a part of such a highly acclaimed and recognized national celebration.
The DEA Youth Dance Program is a free after-school dance program (as seen in photo 4) designed to help children turn to the healthy outlet of dance instead of drugs and negative behaviors. The program is supported by DEA and by contributions from DEA Educational Foundation and various other foundations. Elementary and middle school students are eligible to participate in the 20-week program, designed and led by local professional dance instructors. At the end of the program, students perform at a school assembly and can apply for scholarships at local studios to continue studying dance. The DEA Youth Dance Program expanded to 21 cities nationwide this year, and is expected to grow to 30 cities in 2014. The program is now serving schools in cities including Baltimore, Boston, Los Angeles, New York, Seattle and Washington, D.C. The DEA Youth Dance Program, founded and managed by Jill Roberts, has grown to be one of the most successful after-school dance programs in the United States positively influencing thousands of students each year by providing the healthy outlet of dance. Roberts, a former professional dancer and Georgetown University graduate, won the President's Volunteer Service Award from President Obama in 2009, in part, because of the dance program and her commitment to kids.
To view a video and learn more about the program, visit the DEA Educational Foundation's website. Please also take a moment to watch this video on the DEA Educational Foundation and the DEA Youth Dance Program.
All photos courtesy of the DEA Youth Dance Program