Dance United: Changing Lives through Dance



Peter Morgan, via Flickr

Do you like to dance? Liz Waid and Robin Basselin look at an unusual dance group from Ethiopia. They are using dance to help young people.

Transcript


Voice 1 

Welcome to Spotlight. I’m Liz Waid.

Voice 2 

And I’m Robin Basselin. Spotlight uses a special English method of broadcasting. It is easier for people to understand, no matter where in the world they live.

Voice 1 

Two Ethiopian men are on a large stage in London, England. Many people watch them dancing. The men jump and turn in circles. They lift each other up. Their bodies make beautiful shapes. They are doing contemporary dance. This modern dancing uses many movements from all over the world. The two men dancing are Junaid Sendi and Adissu Dimissie. They are professional dancers and dance teachers. They also choreograph, or design, dances for themselves and other people to perform.

Voice 2 

The dance that Sendi and Dismissie are doing in London is the story of their lives. They both grew up on the streets of Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. How did they move from poverty to become internationally known dancers? Today’s Spotlight is on Dance United, an organization that helps communities through dancing.

Voice 1 

Dance United is a large organization of dance groups. Dance United works with young people who are facing difficulties. For example, some of the young people live in poverty or are struggling with using illegal drugs. Dance United has dance programs in schools, communities, and even prisons. They provide training and good relationships for young people. And of course, they provide dance performances for everyone to enjoy.

Voice 2 

Dance United developed out of another program started by Royston Maldoom. Maldoom is a famous dance teacher and choreographer. In the mid 1990s, he began a program with street children in Ethiopia. He wanted to help the children gain skills and self esteem. But he also wanted to present a dance that people would learn from and enjoy. Maldoom said:

Voice 3 

“I am very sure that dance has a major part to play in improving individuals, communities and societies. There is a great hunger for change. So we are using that. But in a quite new and different way. What we want to give the children more than anything is an understanding. We want them to know that the only people who can change their lives are the children themselves. That means they have to have self-esteem, belief in themselves and understand the future lies with them.”

Voice 1 

Maldoom created a performance with 120 young people. Thousands of people in Ethiopia and around the world saw this performance. After a year and a half in Ethiopia, Maldoom chose 18 young people. These young people included Sendi and Dimissie from the beginning of the program. They would be trained as dance professionals.

Voice 2 

Maldoom and others believed that training young people to dance could make a difference. Dance provides a form of expression and a way to grow stronger. It also makes young people feel like they are part of a group. They learn to trust and support each other. And, Maldoom hoped that they would want to teach these good lessons to their communities.

Voice 1 

However, it is very difficult work to train to be a dancer. This was a big change for the young people from Ethiopia. Adissu Dimissie talks about where he came from and the dance training:

Voice 4 

“When I was 12 I became a shoeshine boy. When the project came up I signed up for the training. I did not know it was for dancing. What made me happy really was to get food, shower and transport money. After five years of training everyone was tested on performance and teaching. We were also tested in choreography. And we all passed.”

Voice 2 

The young people from Ethiopia were very successful. Dance United became a registered charity. They continued their work in the UK and other countries. At the same time, Dimissie and his classmates began a dance company in Ethiopia. They called it Adugna. Asrat Memmo is a member of the Adugna dance company. She tells her story:

Voice 5 

“Before I joined Adugna I was selling oranges and onions. When I started I thought I was never going to be able to continue because I was afraid. In my country, it is very difficult for girls like me. Lots of girls do not go to school. Boys are able to go to school and achieve. But we women, we must stay back at home and carry the load for the whole family.”

Voice 1

The dancers of Adugna believe that their dancing can help change unfair situations, such as treating women unequally. As Maldoom explains, dancing can demonstrate new kinds of community action:

Voice 3 

“With their performances they can show a new way of working. They show people working together in ways which would not normally be seen. Such as, 20 people lifting and supporting one person, men lifting and supporting women, women doing the same to men. This is a major change in thinking in this society.”

Voice 2 

Memmo and other members of Agduna perform dances that are beautiful and meaningful. And they also use dance to help people in the community. They especially concentrate on people who may need extra help such as people who are old or people who have disabilities. Agduna has dance classes to keep peoples’ bodies strong and healthy. Dimissie says that helping in the community is an important part of Adugna. He says their work is a process of sharing - in Ethiopia and internationally:

Voice 4 

“Whoever goes out of the country needs to bring the experience we had outside, into Ethiopia. And then also work in Ethiopia to take that experience to other countries. We did that here and in different places of the world. It is not just me and Junaid and that is it. We need to give more chances to others too.”

Voice 1 

Adugna and Dance United continue to work with young people in Ethiopia. Dance United also has programs in Northern Ireland, Berlin and the UK. Dance United hopes to keep providing skills and values to young people. They believe they can help young people to make good changes. Sendi and Dimissie of Adugna provide a good example of this. As Dimissie says in a documentary film,

Voice 4 

“It is our responsibility for the future to spread contemporary dancing in Ethiopia. We deal with our issues that we have in Ethiopia through dance. I feel like you can change anything through art and I believe I can change something. I am an artist - I can do something. I can change the community…the country”

Voice 2 

The writer of this program was Rena Dam. The producer was Michio Ozaki. The voices you heard were from the United States and the United Kingdom. All quotes were adapted and voiced by Spotlight. You can listen to this program again, and read it, on the internet at www.radioenglish.net. This program is called ‘Dance United: Changing Lives through Dance’.

Voice 1 

You can leave your comments on our website. Or you can email us at radio@radioenglish.net. You can also find us on Facebook - just search for spotlightradio. We hope you can join us again for the next Spotlight program. Goodbye.

Question:

Do you like to dance? Why or why not?

Comments


Avatar Spotlight
QuangTrang
said on August 12, 2014

When dancing, the boy hold the girl, sometime hug the girl in his arms. This is a sensitive touching. Some one can use the dance to make a relationship with each other. Especially in a big party, when they were drunkard, after the dancing they hold hand by hand and toward one place in the party, after the party they go to a hotel (sometime, not at all). The result is they have sin, particular in a person who were married (go to hotel without husband and wife). I like the dance as popular dance in Brazil, one person can dance alone or many people dance together but don’t have sensitive touching.

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Mss Flamboyant
said on August 13, 2014

Our world needs more and more this organization which help people connected. Dance is not only good for our health but also for communities. Especially, It is a good sport for young people which attract them focus on doing best thing than playing games or drug. In my country, the tenagers often make small groups and dance at park. It make our life is more exciting and beautiful.

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Dela
said on August 14, 2014

Dancing certainly can give the young people the beautiful feeling of solidarity just as help them make many positive changes in their lives. This physical activity represents not only pleasure but it mainly influences greatly people’s health and mind too. Nowadays, the favourable effects of dance are even used in the medicine, for example, to fight depression or other mental and physical diseases. Shortly, dancing is the legal, healthy drug for every one.
Thanks for interesting program!

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oleksandrk
said on October 08, 2014

When I started to learn English I thought I was never going to be able to know English very well (espessially speaking) because I was afraid. And after this program I begin to feel some confident becouse every starting is dificalt. And now I see one more example of begining and success. Thank you :)

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Philia
said on November 29, 2015

Yes, I really wanna dance coz I thought and believed that it will make me healthier and happier. Thanksss :)

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Carmen Adriana
said on January 26, 2017

I DO like dancing of course I am latina specially salsa i think it is the perfect way for expressining what do you feel with movements also its a therapy to forget everything you have in your mind and the most important part is because you exercise your body and can be healthy doing what you like .
However salsa is not the only style I like dancing. When we hang out i enjoy dancing electronic and reguetón music . I love electronic music because you dont need specific or difficult steps you dance as you like without coordinating your limbs, and reguetón because this is a sensual dance nevertheless you need strategies to perform well and not doing sexual dance.

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kenhieuloilam
said on January 26, 2017

Each of us goes to perfection in life. We may do many jobs in all our lives. We develop our jobs. We develop our careers. We love our jobs. We love our careers. Our jobs bring us joy. Our careers bring us joy. We love life and everyone. We are responsible to life and everyone. We love beautiful good things. We live a beautiful good life.