DanceForce Member: Diana Cherryholmes
Artists: Tatiana Desardouin, Mai Lê Ho
Community Partners: El Teatro Rodante Hispanico; Teatro Yerbabruja Cultural Center
The project goals were to introduce House and Hip-hop dance to a community where violence is a daily event. MS-13 has received national attention for its violence and murder in Central Islip. The core values of House and Hip-Hop Dance are in opposition to those of MS-13.
Passion Fruit Seeds was a series of four intensive dance workshops. Utilizing the art forms of Hip-Hop and House communities, they taught that art is a source of empowerment that can bring people together. Art builds confidence, connects people from different backgrounds, and helps them feel secure in their own identity. This can be achieved using the core values of the Hip-Hop and House culture — Respect, Love, Unity, Give Back, Self-Development, Identity, Constant Creativity, and Persistence. These values create transferable skills and increase self-motivation to become who the participant wants to become. The teachers align active creativity with enhanced confidence.
Desardouin and Ho are excellent instructors. They quickly gained the respect and attention of the 50 students participating in each of the 2 hour workshops. The students are all members of El Teatro Rodante Hispanico and have a classical dance background. Desardouin’s motto is “never give up”; she cited how she is often treated because of the color of her skin and she would “never give up.” This motivated the students. Desardouin and Ho taught basic House steps and in each session participants were tasked to choreograph a short group work. Additionally, students were given homework assignments and an end of program evaluation.
The final performance on March 17, 2018 was held at the Teatro Experimental Yerbabruja Cultural Center during a mashup up of “Laye Rhythm”, which is a jam session of music and dance, with “Les 5 Sens”, where artists of different art forms (DJ, dance, music, etc.) create experiences for each sense. Approximately 200 people attended throughout the evening event. The students prepared two choreographed House dances for the audience. It was very successful and community members were proud this project was held in Central Islip.
The program was promoted via social media, flyers and word of mouth in Spanish and English.