Lily, 13, Apprentice Corporation dancer
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 that not only gay people get AIDS. Anyone can contract AIDS. I knew that even kids were dying from it. I knew that you didn’t only get it from sexual activity. Those were stereotypes.”
What do you like about working on and developing Getting to Zero, including working with Moving in the Spirit co-founders Dana Lupton and Leah Mann?
“It’s been very collaborative. Dana would give us certain movements and sometimes ask us to make up our own movements, maybe taking one part of the dance and mixing it with another part of the dance.”
What are some of the messages in Getting to Zero that really matter most to you?
“Some of the messages we are getting across include how important it is that you use a condom. Also, we all need to talk to people about our status. Nobody asks about it because you feel awkward about it, and you could get HIV.”
How do you express important messages through dance?
“I think dance is a really emotional thing. It can express things better than your voice can. Kids don’t necessarily like to listen to speeches. Dance is interesting to people. They’ll watch it.”
Tell us more about the creative process and making Getting to Zero.
“I had to learn parts in the middle first. When we started learning the whole dance, we changed the order. Leah Mann had ideas about the order. We had to change things as we went on, and we kept finding dance movements: trios, duets, solos. We showed it to people and made adjustments.”
What did you learn during this creative process?
“I made new friends and connections because of doing this. Some of the people were older than me. We worked on trust and were working on dance in different ways than I was used to. The creative process makes it easier to fit everyone’s ideas in. Dana can talk about what she wants, but she also hears what we might want to do.”
Can a dance performance like Getting to Zero be educational when it comes to HIV/AIDS prevention?
“Yes, especially for the people who are dancing it. We need more kids to come, teenagers. It’s really hard to get through to teens and I think “Getting to Zero” is a good way to do it. Kids may have no idea about HIV or AIDS. Someday, you might have sex and not be protected.”
What skills do you develop during the creative process and through dance?
“Dancing gives me more of an opportunity to see how to work on things and how other people work. It makes me want to work harder. I like learning new things. I like seeing if I can do something that’s challenging to me, and dance is also healthy. It’s exercise.”
How does being in Moving in the Spirit and studying dance help you learn about leadership?
“I really like how this place helps you, and the teachers here help us. Sometimes, they have to be like a ‘drill sergeant,” because you have to keep everything on time, but all that practice really pays off.”