Imagine Dance Project Haiti
The Imagine Dance Project Haiti was accidentally born out of Katie Muckley (or 'Madame Ballet')'s desire to connect with the youth at Imagine Missions orphanage in a meaningful way.
In a crowded dusty room (across the yard from our now music room-turned-studio), Katie spent hours teaching basic ballet steps and positions to a variety of kiddos ages 4 to 16 and was delighted to see how naturally the French-named steps came naturally to them! Each time she went back to Despinos (11 times between 2014 and 2020), they danced a little more, and frequently performed in church!
By 2016, it was clear that we needed to enroll talented 9-year-old Estephanie in a real ballet school. So Katie and orphanage director Melissa enrolled her at the incredible and iconic Institut de Danse Lynn Williams Rouzier (IDDLWR). From there, founder Lynn and director/teacher Marynn taught and loved her so well. In 2017, they actually selected 7 additional children from the orphanage to come attend the school: Night-suze, Belline, Dani, Jamesly, Starly, Roowood, and Mardouche!
It’s clear how impactful this has been to these children. Their growth, maturity, and pride in dance glows! Jamesly and Mardouche were even selected to represent Haiti with IDDLWR at Youth America Grand Prix in 2019, both in the regionals in Tampa and finals in New York City!
As their adventure continues on, Melissa and Katie hope to keep sharing this ‘accidental dance project’ with the world! We hope this will continue to open dance opportunities in Haiti.
With that, we are excited to announce...
Imagine Dance Project Haiti was selected to receive the Aerie Real Change 2020 Grant!
Check it out here: https://www.ae.com/aerie-real-life/2020/08/25/meet-the-2020-aeriereal-changemakers/
It is an honor and privilege to receive this grant and platform Aerie is so graciously sharing! This funding will allow our 8 students (now reunified with their families) to be able to attend Instit de Danse, as travel costs are quite expensive... It will also allow us to expand dance opportunities in Despinos for all 250(ish) primary students at Imagine Missions School starting in November 2020!
We can't wait to share with you more as this adventure unfolds. For now, enjoy viewing the award-winning video application above and the look back at dance at Imagine Missions and Institut de Danse. We look forward to all that Aerie is making possible. We can't think of a better brand with whom to make #realchange... Dance has created so much hope and healing and empowerment for our kids, and we know that will continue for many more with Imagine Dance Project Haiti. As they say at Aerie, this is empowerment.
Sponsor a dance student: To ensure each student at Imagine Missions School has the possibility to attend tuition-free and receive this free dance education, consider assisting by sponsoring a student! This $30 or $60 per month impact (just $1 or $2 per day) creates real change and allows Imagine to keep its school doors open.
Want more information? Reach out to Katie Muckley (Madame Ballet) to learn more!
Follow Imagine Dance Project, IDDLWR, and Katie on Instagram!