Imagine you are a passionate young dancer. You and your classmates have just created personal movement phrases to the lyrics “We have time for racism, we have time for criticism…when will there be a time to love?” Your teacher asks you to dance with your eyes closed, encouraging you to connect with the writer of those lyrics. That’s what is happening this spring at Moving in the Spirit, where over 200 young dancers are creating a tribute, The Wonder Years, that celebrates singer/songwriter Stevie Wonder and his impact as an agent of social change.
“Stevie Wonder is an incredible role model because he started out at such a young age with a power and passion that hasn’t stopped,” explains Dana Lupton, Moving in the Spirit’s co-founder and artistic director.
“His music is so catchy and captivating, it draws you in. You’re tapping your toes and dancing along, and then you start noticing the lyrics and think, ‘Hey, what’s that he’s saying?’ You realize he is addressing serious issues.”
All dancers in the performance, from ages 5-18, are contributing ideas and choreography to the show as part of the creative process.
“We want people to know that kids and teens can lead with compassion, and that we have something to say,” shares 18-year-old dancer Brianna Heath. “A compassionate leader is someone who stands with others, who does not rest until everyone’s voice is heard. That’s what we’re saying when we dance to Stevie’s music.”
“The dancers see themselves in Stevie’s story,” explains Lupton. “He played several instruments by the time he was nine years old. He recorded his first album at age 11. If he could create something powerful as a young person, so can they.”
Moving in the Spirit is also partnering with Atlanta’s renowned Portfolio Center to create a series of interactive pre and post-show experiences that further connect audiences to the message of the performance.
“For us, this partnership brings the creative process full circle,” says Lupton. “From the moment audiences arrive at the theater until the moment they leave, they will be empowered to realize that regardless of age or the challenges we face, we all have the power to change the world.”
‘The Wonder Years’ will be held at Georgia State University’s Rialto Center for the Arts on May 7, 2015 at 7 PM.Purchase Tickets