Local teen dancers create statement piece about school gun violence

by Contributed Content on October 29, 2015

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A group of teen dancers from Menlo Park dance studio, Captivating Dance by Nona, got together with their teachers/choreographers to create a statement piece about gun violence in America, particularly at schools. There have been 45 school shootings in 2015 (as of October 1), and they wanted to express both sadness and hope.

Nona Ybarra and Kate Lynn Roberts, teachers/choreographers, and 10 dancers from Captivating Dance by Nona who attend Menlo-Atherton, Carlmont, Woodside and Castilleja High Schools participated. The video was produced by Get Human, Inc., a small organization that uses dance performances and productions to raise awareness and funds for causes that get press attention and are then put aside for the next “news item.”

After the Roseburg, Oregon, shooting on October 1st, Captivating Dance owner Nona Ybarra and Creative Director Kate Lynn Roberts were asked by Get Human if they would choreograph a dance and help organize a video filming. The two dance professionals swung into action, deciding that it needed to happen quickly in order to have the desired impact. Plans were made on Friday, October 2nd and music with voiceovers, choreography, rehearsals and filming were all completed by Sunday the 4th. Local school leaders generously agreed to allow the filming to be done on a school campus. The video was edited and posted on YouTube within a week.

Explained Nona: “We came in on our day off to put this together. Everyone is very busy, but we all agreed it was important to make the time. The idea really sparked inspiration in Kate Lynn and me — as soon as we had things firmed up we contacted the dancers. Without any hesitation, they were all on board to use their talents to help.”

“The choreography was created in a few short hours,” said Kate Lynn. “We knew time was of the essence. The dancers were excited to work on such a powerful piece. They took our choreography to another level and poured their hearts into it. It was incredible to take their love of dance and integrate it into a situation they were all so passionate about. It gave the girls a voice — through their words and through dance.”

Nona and Kate Lynn believe that their company dancers and dance team members at Menlo-Atherton High School, where they coach the Dance Team as well as the Cheer Team, should be involved in the community. They’ve led their dancers in supporting walk-a-thons, rallying around community members fighting illnesses, and also donated dance space, music and choreography to student-led charitable initiatives.

“We can all empathize with the loss of friends and family, but these shootings have become so frequent that people are becoming desensitized,” said Nona. We wanted to send a message near and far that people have had enough of these senseless tragedies. We hope these kids dancing pushes people to work harder for a solution — it really is time we all worked together.”

Added dancer Olivia Bloom, a Sophomore at Menlo-Atherton High School: “It’s hard to keep hearing upsetting news and feel like nothing is going to change. You see the articles and news reports and then everybody just says, ‘that’s terrible,’ and people go on to the next thing. As the video says, ‘we grew up like this.’ School shootings are so scary and yet at this point they seem like an almost ‘normal’ part of life.”

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