THE FORCES OF NATURE YOUTH ACADEMY OF DANCE & WELLNESS IN PARTNERSHIP WITH THE HARLEM CHILDREN’S ZONE
The mission of the Youth Academy of Dance & Wellness is to train young people in the arts and discipline of dance, stimulate wellness physically and mentally, as well as encourage a sense of wonder for the endless possibilities that exist within them. The scholarship program will provide the supportive environment for students attending the Harlem Children’s Zone ages 4 to 17 to explore their strengths, dreams and creative talents through ongoing classes offered in Ballet, Modern, Hip Hop, African Dance and repertoire. Students learn life changing social and emotional skills; accountability; work ethic and teamwork. The Company teaches upward of 75 classes per week at the Zone which concludes in an annual Concert and performances with the Forces of Nature Dance Company which has included being featured annually at the Apollo Theatre, Student Concert and a cultural exchange program to South Africa. Several of the alumni of the program are attending College degree programs and professional training schools in dance.
OUR EDUCATIONAL MISSION
Under the direction of Co-Founder/CEO Olabamidele Husbands, the company’s arts/education component is an integral part of the over 40-year history. The company has conducted workshops, master classes, training seminars, and residencies for more than a million students at secondary schools as well as numerous colleges, universities and community service organizations at home and abroad. Each program is designed to support and improve the quality of life and education for participants of all ages, cultures, nationalities and ethnic origins. The program is also designed to expose participants to a rich cultural heritage through association with community elders in the arts and education fields who are committed to transmitting positive values, traditions and beliefs of the people and cultures of the Americas, Africa and the African Diaspora. Topics can include a variety of social and educational issues, including, youth empowerment, teacher training, diversity in schools, arts and world cultures, history and culture of the African Diaspora, comparative religion, and ecology and the environment. Forces of Nature’s current arts education programs are funded by human services, arts institutions and foundations such as the Harlem Children’s Zone, National Endowment for the Arts and New York State Council for the Arts. Through the development of these ongoing programs, the company has found that the arts (music, dance, theatre, visual arts and oral traditions) coupled with informative, stimulating academic presentations that educate through creative participation, serve as one of the best tools in educating our young and redirecting them to a progressive alternative path.
The concert presentation is chosen from the company’s repertoire of over 80 works. Full company or chamber company. 120 minutes including a 15‑minute intermission.
Works are chosen from the main stage repertory. Full company, chamber company, duets, and solos are available depending upon the technical limitations of the Venue. Performances are 60 minutes with no intermission.
Works are chosen from the educational program repertoire in addition to solo, duet and chamber works suited to the technical limitations of the facility and consists of 5‑9 artists (dancers and musicians). 30‑60 minutes.
Classes are offered in West African, Modem dance, Ballet, Afro-House, Afro-Beat, Hip-Hop and Fusion. Musical instruction for percussion instruments is also offered by the company. The levels of instruction range from beginner to advanced, and are available for senior citizens, physically challenged, and special needs populations also. 2‑4 artists. 60‑120 minutes.
Programs featuring choreography, collaborative work, teacher training (curriculum development), arts integration for public schools, colleges, universities, civic and private organizations can be scheduled (no more than 4 activities per day). Full company, chamber company, education unit (2‑8 artists). Time varies according to program.
Through lectures, demonstrations, dance, songs, and stories, teachers are given “movement language”, information, and materials to be used in their classrooms to teach African and African Diasporan history and culture. Teachers are provided with study guides, basic movement vocabulary, a bibliography of current titles, and instruction on how to create a resource center for their classroom. 2 artists/instructor.
OUTREACH AND PERFORMANCE PROGRAMS
SPECIAL EDUCATIONAL PROGRAMS
This program is designed to introduce participants to the historical and cultural bridges between Native Americans, African Americans, and Latino Americans. The program includes singing, dancing, drumming, folktales, and historical symposia examining the cultural bonds between these three distinct groups of people. Study guides and videotapes are available for teachers and students upon request.
This program focuses on the use of animal imagery as symbols of power and how these images have taught men and women about survival, balance, and society since the beginning of time. The program consists of dances, music, songs, and visual art from Nigeria, Senegal, Haiti, Mexico, and Puerto Rico. Study guides and a video presentation are available.
RHYTHMS OF MALI
This program introduces audiences to the cultural riches of the ancient Mali empire. Through music, dance, and accompanying narration, students learn about the history, traditions, and belief systems of the powerful empire that subsequently evolved into the nations of Senegal, Guinea, the Ivory Coast, and Mali. Lecture‑demonstrations and concerts include a “Bantaba” or “dancing circle” where the audience is invited to join the company in a traditional African dance experience. Study guides and video presentations are available.
Maatye’s Journey transports urban youth from the streets of the city to the world of self‑knowledge by imaginatively transporting them through the African Diaspora. Each participant travels to Africa and the Caribbean Islands, and back to the Americas through music, dance and storytelling. At each point of the Journey”, the students encounter a unique cultural experience. Step by step, these experiences educate and expose the students to the all‑encompassing presence of African culture in each place that they visit. Ultimately, this Journey” leads the student to a newly‑acquired knowledge of a shared linkage to a common heritage and African ancestry.
Forces of Nature holds the distinction of producing one of the largest Kwanzaa celebrations in New York City each year in partnership with the famed Apollo Theater. Special activities for children, elders, and the family are central to the event, which attracts a multi ethnic audience from all over the country. In order to educate and enlighten the general public, educators and community leaders about this empowering cultural and spiritual holiday that is celebrated by over 20 million people worldwide, the company conducts educational Kwanzaa lecture demonstrations, workshops, mini concerts, and performances at public schools and community centers designed to expose everyone to the basic principles of this cultural and spiritual holiday celebration.