Dance and Drumming for Newcomers

The Cause

In partnership with Action for Healthy Communities, Ballet Edmonton's IDEA is to launch West African Dance For Newcomers - a free dance and music program for youth (age 13-17) who are newcomers to Canada from the West African community in Edmonton that will run twice weekly at the Commonwealth Recreation Centre from January to June 2023. Through our existing community outreach and education program Art Connects, Ballet Edmonton offers community-based dance programs as a tool for community engagement to minoritized communities at zero cost to participants. Ballet Edmonton hires experienced dance teachers who specialize in the dance genre for that particular session - in this case West African dance and hand drumming. We develop customized programs to serve the needs of a particular sector of the community that has come to us asking for dance education programming. The foundation of Art Connects is that our programming is responsive, not prescriptive.

The administration and accounting for West African Dance For Newcomers series would be managed by Ballet Edmonton. Class registration would be co-managed by our community partners at Action for Healthy Communities as they have strong relationships with the newcomer community. Classes would be led by two experienced dance instructors, both new Canadians with years of professional dance and music (drumming) educational experience. Each teacher is multilingual to be able to offer more opportunities for communication in languages other than English. Action for Healthy Communities has also offered to provide a volunteer aide/host for each class meeting to support language and other needs.

The goals of the program are to:
-Use the power of dance and drumming to engage newcomer youth experiencing challenges navigating a new country
-Develop new skills that encourage self-confidence
-Facilitate new friendships and community connections.
-Learn about dance and hand drumming
-Introduce the cultural practise of dance and hand drumming as an expressive tool

Who Will it Benefit?

Our community partners at Action for Healthy Communities and the City of Edmonton have helped us identify focused needs for youth aged 13-17 within the newcomer community. We will have a class of 15 youth twice a week for 6 months (total expected attendance: 720). If the demand for classes grows, we will offer additional classes. There is no cost to participants for these classes.