Tag Archives: ballet

Pass On the Good News

11 Dec

In one of my many guises I write a blog for an organization that represents photographers and photo researchers. My most recent post included an incredible book called GO DO GOOD (http://www.blurb.com/bookstore/detail/2276963). Some of my favorite commercial and fine art photographers took time out of their schedules to create small photographic essays highlighting the small but wonderful projects that individuals and groups have taken on to make a difference.

I mention this because I found the project and book while digging for some information regarding a photography show I wanted to see. There is no large publicity machine churning out press releases, tweets, Facebook updates and news reports about this and so many other examples of people trying to change their small section of the universe.

When I do a Google search for Austin neighborhood, the first two or three items that appear are always related to crime. A recent Chicago Tribune article (http://crime.chicagotribune.com/chicago/) reported that Austin has the dubious distinction of ranking number one on the list of the Top Five Most Crime-Ridden Chicago Communities. This sad statistical representation of a vibrant community shows up again and again, page after page, along with news reports of people who have come under fire in the neighborhood.

The only upbeat news item I could find was Mayor Emanuel’s November announcement with the headline Emanuel steers $1.25 million in TIF funds to high school. “Investing in our children and their futures is a key priority of my administration and this funding will allow thousands of Chicago’s children to get high-paying jobs in tomorrow’s workforce,” said Mayor Emanuel. “I’m proud to be able to reinvest these recovered TIF funds into a neighborhood program that will directly impact the lives of Chicago’s families and strengthen our city’s economy for the future.” While this is a wonderful investment into the Austin neighborhood, it made it into only four papers, while the crime ranking of Austin showed up a dozen times.

Move Me Soul is performing December 13 at 6 p.m. on the Austin High School campus at 231 N Pine. No, this isn’t the Joffrey Ballet and it isn’t at Symphony Center. It’s free and these students come together to prove there is a reason to celebrate life. They dance because they can and because they want to make a difference in their own lives as well as in the lives of those around them. This is a small and wonderful bit of good news about Austin. Pass it on; with each small step we can move away from the violence and statistics towards something better.

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Reggie Jones & Murielle Dickens; Rising Stars of Chicago’s Austin Community

27 Aug

Move Me Soul is more than just a dance troupe; it is a movement dedicated to saving lives through hard work, dedication, education and dance. Move Me Soul is an After School Matters program dance troupe based in the Austin community on Chicago’s West Side. Reggie Jones and Murielle Dickens are two of the standout dancers in the Move Me Soul dance troupe. They share a love for all things dance and that’s not the only thing they have in common.  

Move Me Soul, in conjunction with P3, sponsored Reggie on his first college trip to Cornish College in Seattle, Washington. He is currently a senior Austin High School. Murielle Dickens is entering her senior year at George Washington Prepatory High School. Thanks to Move Me Soul Director Ayesha, Murielle visited and studied dance and culture in Ghana.

I recently had an opportunity to see Reggie and Murielle perform and interview them as well. It was Reggie’s first time on a plane when he visited Cornish College. He described his first visit to Seattle as “Beautiful, the weather was perfect!” even though he ran into some difficulties checking into to his hotel room. P3 had pre-paid for Reggie’s room, but when he arrived he was unable to check-in; P3 eventually arranged housing for Reggie at another hotel about 30 minutes away.

While visiting Cornish College, Reggie participated in the Modern, Ballet, and Pilates dance classes. Reggie thoroughly enjoyed his visit with Cornish College, saying “Their hospitality was great!” In our interview he expressed his passion for all forms of dance; when asked to describe his style of dance he said, “It’s smooth, and I can make it however the choreographer wants to see; I will take in their techniques and add my own to it.” Preparing to go on stage his energy was upbeat and confident. When asked what makes him different he stated “I bring dance to life with my own style.”

 Murielle Dickens describe her style of dance as “Versatile and like a sponge. Any type of style of dance I can learn I will. I want to master every type of style of dance.”  Murielle said that “dancing allows me to get away from the world. Dancing keeps me out of trouble. There are so many places you can go with dance!” After being nominated by Move Me Soul Director Ayesha for the Sankofa Youth Enrichment program, Murielle won a trip to Ghana to study dance for two weeks. She seemed very humbled from her experience and said “We take so much for granted here in the US.” She intends to go back and initiate a Christmas toy/clothing drive for the youth in Ghana. Her advice to anyone interested in dance is to “Stay true to yourself.”

Reggie Jones and Murielle Dickens are the Rising Stars of the Austin community. They both claim Michael Jackson as their favorite dancer but they also share their ambition and drive as well. Their plight is to escape from the violence of Chicago’s Austin community through dance. These are the names that you should know as these Rising Stars will become the Game Changers of tomorrow.

 

Eldrick Hereford