Mentor Artist Djenane Saint Juste worked with children from kindergarten through grade 8 this year:
Dance is a powerful art form that allows the true self to shine and be happy. It is a way of communication that transcends any kind of barriers that our ancestors have used for many generations. It is a way to bring the community together.
After each residency at a school I discover new artists aware of their body and learning to translate their emotion through movements. I saw happy children and teachers who feel safe and confident to share their new dance moves. I saw respectful middle school students who learned to enjoy partner dancing with their classmates. And I spent a year working with the Cascade Canyon community who enjoyed traveling and learning about Haiti and other remarkable Caribbean cultures.
I am very thankful that I had the chance to grow up with a mother who is an amazing artist who taught me the passion for dance. And I am so happy to bring my family with me to each residency. My mother Fofo is a singer and dancer, my brother Jeff is a percussionist and my son Hassen is a dancer. I think it is very important for children to see four generations of family working together as artists, and to understand that dance is for everyone and is the true language of love.