This morning, we opened up the doors of our Atlas studios and provided a “behind-the-scenes” look into our summer Step Ahead program. Attendees included our Board Members, individual and foundation supporters, and community organizations — including the Capitol Hill Community Foundation, Cultural DC, and the Catalogue for Philanthropy.
Developing dance and job skills, our 50 Step Ahead teens spend six weeks training and rehearsing like professional dancers, rotating through classes in Jazz, Ballet, Contemporary African, West African, and Hip Hop and planning a full-scale dance concert — which is coming up August 9 at the Atlas Performing Arts Center! Step Ahead participants are also compensated for their work through the DC Summer Youth Employment Program.
Step Ahead has been an essential part of our Project Motion Community Outreach initiative for eight years now, and we were excited to share it with our community. The event began with a welcome from Executive/Artistic Director Doug Yeuell, Director of Programs and Services Heidi Schimpf, and Education and Outreach Manager Quynn Johnson, who heads up Step Ahead every year.
After a tour of our Atlas studios, visitors watched the first public performance of three dances from this summer’s concert: a Contemporary African piece, a West African piece, and a step piece that focuses on the repercussions of cyber-bullying. Then the Step Ahead students (many of whom are participating for the second or third summer in a row) fielded questions from the audience, often attesting that Step Ahead has built both their dance ability and their confidence.