Darion, 20, Alumnus
Getting to Zero, a new dance, is part of an exciting partnership, funded by the Elton John AIDS Foundation and conceived by the Community Foundation for Greater Atlanta, to educate Atlanta’s youth about the rise in HIV/AIDS diagnoses in young people, aged 13-24. Moving in the Spirit and project partner VOX Teen Communications have used the funding to develop innovative teen programming that will be presented on December 5th.
Before you started working on Getting to Zero, what did you know about HIV or AIDS?
“I knew it was a sexually-transmitted disease and that you can also get it from needles. I knew it was very deadly.”
What have you learned during the process of making Getting to Zero?
“I have learned more about HIV prevention and treatment, about the medications used to treat it, and how you can now get your T-cell count down to zero, or that a small percentage of people can get it there. I also learned that in Atlanta, many of the new cases occur in my age group: 18-25.”
How can a dance like Getting to Zero teach young people about HIV and AIDS prevention?
“Getting to Zero is very engaging. We really rope the crowd in, and we’ve added dialogue and different styles of dancing: Hip hop, Step, etc. It really reels in the audience. The dance can bring the message in a comedic way to the crowd, so they can understand what is going on. Humor can bring a serious subject to people. You can get the message to people through dance more than you can through other ways.”
What was the creative process like?
“The piece really did evolve. I came to the project a little late. They were already putting pieces of it together. We would get into circles and talk about it, what works and what doesn’t. It was really a process of trial and error and it is still going on. It gives the dancers a chance to put something into the dance. It gives us a chance to put our own ideas into it – people of all different ages.”
What’s it like to work with Leah Mann?
“She like a big ball of energy. I love her personality. She brings out the best in you in a coach-like way. I appreciate the push she gives us to try new things.”
What is it like to work together with all these different dancers to create this piece?
“I love to work with other dancers because it allows our ideas to mesh together. Nobody is a bad choreographer or a bad dancer. Two negatives can make a positive. I’m sure something beautiful will come from all of us working together. It gives me the chance to be in a leadership role, because I am one of the older dancers. The kids look up to me – but I’m learning from them too.”
What are the important messages you are sending through Getting to Zero?
“We need to be more aware of AIDS. It’s a major epidemic in our own city. Be protected and get tested.”
Tell me more about the personal skills you develop through dance at Moving in the Spirit.
“You learn about being able to conduct yourself in a professional environment. How to approach potential employers with a firm handshake, making eye contact. I learned that from my former teacher, Mr. Chris, and he’s exposed me to business meetings so I can experience that. Dance has also taught me personal responsibility. You have to take it seriously. If you want to dance, dance. I’m very disciplined when it comes to my art.”