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 own communities.
At Moving in the Spirit, we believe every child deserves to grow within a community that is rich in cultural assets, caring role models and safe places to learn. We exist to create opportunities for youth who might otherwise lack access to after-school enrichment programs, especially those focused on the arts. Moving in the Spirit is open to all, regardless of dance experience. We provide our programs for a nominal fee, and need-based financial aid is available.
Moving in the Spirit began in 1986 as the hopeful vision of Dana Lupton and Leah Mann, who believed they could unite their love for dance with their commitment to social justice. They were soon joined by Genene Stewart, who brought her heart for social justice as well as her extensive dance and business expertise to the small, but mighty team. Together, they turned Moving in the Spirit into the organization it is today. 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.
Highlights from our history include:
- 2005 – Moving in the Spirit received a national Youth Program Award, presented by the President’s Committee on the Arts and Humanities. Our dancers performed at the White House awards ceremony for First Lady Laura Bush, and were invited to return several months later to perform for President Bush and Liberian President, Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf.
- 2010 – Community demand for Moving in the Spirit reached a historic peak. Faced with waiting lists, Moving in the Spirit completed construction of a new stage in an unfinished warehouse adjacent to our facility. We named this new, vibrant space “The MAC” after Mac Monroe, an early advocate for racial equality and social justice in Atlanta.
- 2011 – The Community Foundation for Greater Atlanta honored Moving in the Spirit with the prestigious Managing for Excellence Award, citing our fiscal responsibility, community impact and measurable results.
- 2013 – Georgia Governor Nathan Deal presented Moving in the Spirit with a 2013 Governor’s Award for the Arts & Humanities, lauding our impact on Georgia’s cultural and civic vitality.
- 2014 – Moving in the Spirit partnered with MARTA, Columbia Ventures, and architects Perkins&Will to design and build a new, transit-accessible home for our programs at Edgewood/Candler Park station.
- 2020 – Moving in the Spirit completed construction on our new home and received our certificate of occupancy!
Today, we are proud to share that many alumni have returned to Moving in the Spirit as teaching artists, donors, mentors and now parents with their own children in our programs. Realizing they can have even greater impact on the organization working collectively, they formed an official Alumni Committee in 2011. We look forward to collaborating with our alumni as we continue our vital work with youth across metro Atlanta.