Moving in the Spirit
Moving in the Spirit is an award-winning creative youth development program that uses dance to teach young people the social, emotional, and cognitive skills they need to thrive.
Through programs that integrate high-quality dance instruction with performance, leadership, and mentor opportunities, Moving in the Spirit impacts 250 children and teens annually in Atlanta, GA, encouraging them to overcome the obstacles they face each day and realize their highest potential.
Ultimately, students graduate from Moving in the Spirit as confident, resilient, compassionate leaders, poised to succeed beyond the stage and make a difference in their communities.
Arts Disciplines: Dance, Creative Youth Development
Core Content Curriculum Areas: Dance, Creative Youth Development
Specialized Content Areas: Anti-bullying, Character Education
Grade Levels: Pre-K, K-2, 3-5, 6-8, 9-12
Special Populations: At-Risk Students, BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and People of Color) students
Geographic Availability: Metro Atlanta
- Performance: $1,000
- Workshops: $500
Moving in the Spirit is an innovator in the field of creative youth development, a national movement that integrates creative skill-building, inquiry, and expression with positive youth development principles.
Our dance programs, rooted in evidence-based practices, increase artistic technique and optimize a child’s developmental progress even in the face of challenges and hardship.
Guided by professionals with degrees in dance, counseling, dance/movement therapy, and education, our students build positive identity, resilience, and the prosocial skills they need to thrive. Artistically, our students study modern dance and creative movement, with additional opportunities to study ballet, hip hop, jazz, and West African dance.
Our curriculum emphasizes connection, communication, contribution, and compassion. Much of our artistic content, developed in collaboration with the students themselves, focuses on diversity, tolerance, and social issues relevant to youth. Students frequently cite this as one of the most rewarding aspects of being involved with Moving in the Spirit.
Moving in the Spirit began in 1986 as the hopeful vision of Dana Lupton, Leah Mann, and Genene Stewart, who believed they could unite their love for dance with their commitment to social justice and serving youth. What began as a dance class for a small group of girls at Stewart Avenue Shelter has now blossomed into a large and diverse organization that reaches over 250 children every week across Atlanta.
Throughout our 37-year history, we have served over 5,000 young people in the classroom and thousands more through additional workshops, performances, and national and international dance tours. We have received multiple awards for impacting young lives through the arts, including The Community Foundation for Greater Atlanta’s Managing for Excellence Award (2011); The Governor’s Award for the Arts & Humanities (2013); and a National Youth Program Award (2005), presented to Moving in the Spirit at The White House by famed choreographer Debbie Allen, former First Lady Laura Bush, and the President’s Committee for the Arts & Humanities.
- My voice—a workshop on diversity and inclusion: Diversity and inclusion are values that students hear about all the time, but we often fail to provide the character development training students need to develop empathy. Following the Positive Youth Development model, this workshop will provide educators with a framework for cultivating understanding through creativity. The workshop’s curriculum will use current news headlines to create issue-based choreography. This workshop combines social studies (analysis of current events) with language arts (creative writing) and the performing arts (creative movement) to create a comprehensive framework for uniting different perspectives and modeling positive behaviors. After an initial group check-in, workshop participants will write a creative journal entry about the ways in which a current event/issue affects them personally. Participants will identify five action verbs in their writing related to the emotional struggle and five descriptive adjectives of personal qualities. Participants will then assign a corresponding movement gesture for each verb and adjective, and combine these gestures into a short sequence. After performing their gesture sequences in small groups, the entire group will come together to dialogue about the emotions they understood and connected with as they witnessed each other’s creative movement. During the dialogue, instructors will prompt analysis of the Creative Youth Development modeled behaviors – whether the dancer approached her challenges assertively (the positive behavior), aggressively, passively, or passive aggressively (negative behaviors). The goal of the workshop is for participants to understand how creative processes help them better identify, communicate, and understand their perspective of the world around them.
- Primary Art Form: Dance
- Grade Level: High School
- Student Teacher Ratio: 2 teachers to 18 students
- Workshop Length: 2 hours
- Fee Structure: $500 per workshop, open for negotiations
Sample Lesson Plans/Study Guides: