Everybody Dance Now! (EDN!) Santa Barbara was founded by a 14-year-old in 2005 to provide positive dance outlets for at-risk youth. EDN! offers free, weekly, hip-hop dance programming to young people who lack the funds, transportation, or parental support to access such opportunities.
Since its inception, EDN! has reached over 1,000 students and now serves over 300 youth annually. The organization currently offers 17 local dance classes weekly at Title 1 elementary schools, junior high schools, homeless shelters, low-income housing complexes, and after-school programs. EDN! Santa Barbara, which remains entirely run by high school students, has inspired 12 chapters throughout the nation since being featured on the #1 most viewed TV show for youth, America’s Best Dance Crew, in April, 2010.
Everybody Dance Now!’s founder, Jackie Rotman, spent last summer in East Africa. While there, Jackie became involved with program called Breakdance Project Uganda (BPU), which shares the same fundamental vision as Everybody Dance Now. Like EDN!, BPU uses dance for positive social change and demonstrates how dance can be a powerful universal force for transforming communities. However, BPU differs from EDN! in that it brings hundreds of students together at one location, emphasizes that “everyone is a teacher, everyone is a student,” and draws on the various elements of breakdance culture to influence young peoples’ lives.
The Everybody Dance Now! team is partnering with Breakdance Project Uganda to establish a similar program locally called Breakdance Project Santa Barbara (BPSB). The local program will provide a place where families, students, youth, b-boys, community members, and hip-hoppers can learn and teach on a monthly basis. BPSB will strive to combat issues of youth violence in our city where 1,800 young people are at risk of joining a gang, and the average age of gang entry is 14 years old. BPSB will present healthy outlets and positive role models for youth and will aim to build unity and connection amongst a wide range of diverse community members.
Everybody Dance Now! Santa Barbara has hired Armando “Junior” Cervantes (18), a local leader in using and promoting breakdance as a positive outlet and a role model among Santa Barbara youth, as the promotional manager for the event. His role will be to promote BPSB and to mobilize other young breakdancers as teachers and leaders.
BPSB will be launched on Sunday, January 16 at Harding Elementary School. An opening ceremony will be held from 2-3pm, at which Superintendent Brian Sarvis and Assembly Member Das Williams have been invited as honorary guest speakers. International activist Babatunde Folayemi has also been invited to deliver a keynote address. (Confirmation of guest speakers’ attendance is pending.)
Following the ceremony, groups will break out into a breakdance workshop from 3-5pm. People of all ages, backgrounds, and experiences are welcomed to attend – no dance experience necessary. We hope to engage 150-200 people at the launch.
Summary of Facts:
- What: The launch of Breakdance Project Santa Barbara – modeled after a program in East Africa.
- Who: Established by Everybody Dance Now!, a youth-run organization
- Why: To provide free, healthy outlets to Santa Barbara’s youth and to unite our community
- When: January 16 — Opening Ceremony 2-3pm, Breakdance Workshop 3-5pm
- Where: Harding Elementary School outside of Harding Recreation Center: 1607 Gillespie St.
This is an age-inclusive and entirely free program- reservations not necessary