A long-standing program at Joy of Motion has been Step Ahead, an engaging and productive arts experience during summer vacation for 30 DC teens in our Atlas studio location. With dance and performance as the conduits, Step Ahead teaches life and career skills to prepare teens for productive and creative futures. Teens build self-confidence, engage in physical activity, and develop project management and employment skills. Participants are compensated for their dance and production work through the Department of Employment Services’ Summer Youth Employment Program (SYEP).

Building upon the success of Step Ahead, Joy of Motion will launch First Job in the Arts in the 2017/18 program year, providing youth from under-resourced communities the supports and opportunities to bolster their employability, as well as build core competencies for future work in arts and nonprofit management. As paid apprentices in our offices and studios, participants will build skills and independence in self-identified areas of interest. In addition, each cohort will receive high-level mentorship and group facilitation by a skilled arts leader. First Job in the Arts also draws upon an initiative of the same name at Stages Theatre Company in Minneapolis, MN, which was pioneered by Joy of Motion’s Executive Director during his 16-year tenure there.

“I have improved my communication and team-working skills so much. I have learned that if I want something, I need to really work for it and be patient.” – Youth participant in the 2016 Step Ahead program