School Partnerships Program
Versa-Style Dance Company's School Partnerships Program works with teachers, administrators and after school care providers to offer high quality instruction in Hip Hop and street dance art forms. Teaching Artists emphasize technique, history and individual expression known as "freestyle" to not only to impart information to the students, but also to inspire, motivate and include students in a global dance culture that has roots in the marginalized experiences of people of color in America.
What is the primary issue area that your application will impact?
K-12 STEAM Education
In which areas of Los Angeles will you be directly working?
San Fernando Valley
In what stage of innovation is this project, program, or initiative?
Expand existing project, program, or initiative
What is your understanding of the issue that you are seeking to address?
The majority of the students we work with are young artists of color, ages 6+, who love Hip Hop and street dance. However, there is a significant lack of teaching artists within LAUSD who look like the students they serve and are able to deliver an authentic Hip Hop/street dance curriculum. Additionally, the issue compounds and worsens as students get older and become interested in pursuing the arts after high school. There is no lack of talent, interest or commitment to these art forms and the opportunities they provide our communities. However, there is a severe lack of educators able to disseminate the information necessary to guide students on their journey. Not to mention the healing, stabilizing benefits of the art forms for young students of color, which are immense. When students feel their backgrounds are validated, seen and heard, they want to come to school, participate in their studies and have something to look forward to beyond high school.
Describe the project, program, or initiative this grant will support to address the issue.
Versa-Style Dance Company's School Partnerships Program brings a National Core Standards in Dance-based Hip Hop and street dance curriculum that both honors students' backgrounds as artists of color and prepares them for life after high school, instilling values of confidence, commitment and community building. Programs happen both during school and after school. During school, we often partner with a dance teacher who is only teaching ballet, contemporary and/or modern. We come in to offer authentic Hip Hop and street dance forms, filling a vital need that honors the students' backgrounds as artists of color. After school, our teaching artists usually assume the role of program directors and form a dance team centered around Hip Hop and street dance. These "teams" perform and compete at their school and throughout Los Angeles. Participation in this program leads to an increase in self knowledge, pride in one's school and surrounding community and performance opportunities that build confidence. Participation can also lead to further opportunities with VSDC such as Friday Night Dance Classes open to the public, Versa-Style Next Generation, a pre-professional experience where students get to train with VSDC Movement Artists, Versa-Style Legacy, a junior company that offers paid performance opportunities, or even working for VSDC as an intern, administrator, teaching artist or even a Movement Artist in the professional company.
Describe how Los Angeles County will be different if your work is successful.
VSDC's mission is to foster the next generation of Hip Hop and street dance teaching artists, administrators and professional artists. We want to see more teaching artists educating through Hip Hop and street dance at more LAUSD schools, with more after school care providers and at more non-profit organizations. We want to see more leaders of color who use the ethics of the "cypher," where all are equal, in their administrative work. We want to see more professional artists use authentic Hip Hop and street dance in their work, whether it be on stages or behind the camera. We want to see more leaders of color in positions of influence, using the values inherent in Hip Hop and street dance culture such as creativity, confidence and community building. Progress has been made on these goals as we better track our program graduates. Many have gone on to teach, perform and work in the creative economy in LA.
What evidence do you have that this project, program, or initiative is or will be successful, and how will you define and measure success?
We primarily measure program impact through surveying our student participants. We do not necessarily define success on program reach alone, although we do track program size, as well as student demographics, such as students' age, background and geographic location. Tracking qualitative data such as students' enjoyment of the program, increases in self confidence and goal setting and testimonials factor most into our program evaluation. However, our most significant measurement of program success is student retention in our community programs. The more students attend Friday Night Dance Classes and Versa-Style Next Generation, the more impactful our school programs become. This directly translates to tracking our students after they graduate our community programs, seeing where they end up in college and the workforce. We are currently tracking a number of students as they become teaching artists, arts administrators and professional artists.
Approximately how many people will be impacted by this project, program, or initiative?
Direct Impact: 5
Indirect Impact: 150