Vania Masias, former Peruvian national premier ballerina and national champion dancer, was touring with the Ireland Ballet’s Romeo and Juliet when she returned to Lima for vacation and watched a group of street dancers perform at an intersection in front of her car. She envisioned creating a dance studio, a safe friendly place where these street kids could practice their dance, express themselves, learn other forms of dance, and basically just “be”, safe and comfortable. To use the facility the children must be in school and maintain a certain grade average. (Vania has a tutor on Saturdays available to kids who are in jeopardy of falling below grade).
The charity has expanded and now includes outreach programs to schools in very poor neighbourhoods. Vania’s teachers (all graduates of her school) go into these schools, and, using rap and hip-hop, engage the children and draw them out of their shells. I watched a video of a project they did in a rural community that brought tears to my eyes. Quiet, insecure kids, many the victims of abuse, were onstage rapping and dancing. We discussed her use of art education with members of our Advisory Committee, and not only did they all know of her, but they believed very much in the ability of art to educate children in Peru. Traditional education is failing children in Peru, but Vania feels very strongly in giving kids structure and creative outlets as a forum for education.
There is no doubt that Angeles D-1 is having a profound impact on children in Lima. We have applied some of our performance measurement criteria and are extremely impressed with the results. We are currently supporting a second Angeles D-1 location in Pachacutec, an economically challenged suburb of Lima. Since the centre opened, we have been receiving monthly updates with wonderful testimonials and photos (see News/Updates). In November 2010, we visited the centre and witnessed first hand the transformational impact Angeles D-1 is having on the youth of this neighborhood.
Their website: www.angelesd1.org
A Student’s Story – Luis Carrera
My name is Luis Carrera, I am 17 years old and I am part of the developing program Angeles D-1 from summer 2005.
When I first arrived to D-1, I saw dance as a hobby and something I can spend time in, something that kept me busy. At the beginning I used to think “this will be over in two months, this won’t last”, until I saw the first generation dancing, who by that time were part of the developing program as well, I was young and I used to talk about them as “the elders”. When I saw them dance I was so emotional that I proposed to myself to get to dance as they did, and little by little, dance became my lifestyle more than just my hobby. It’s something that makes you get out of bed, like getting dressed, like going to the washroom, like walking, like interacting with other people.
But this is not all, besides the dance I also learned to behave, like be aware of the right time for jokes, I used to joke every time, before I couldn’t stay without doing things to make me laugh or make someone else laugh, but in time I learned that the best way to help myself was by knowing how to listen, be aware and be able to give right opinions. All this is leading me to what I proposed to myself a few years ago, and that is to lead a team that can be constructive.
For me, D-1 is my second home, with people that are not necessarily my relatives but I feel them like my siblings. We share the same dreams, people who share and bring acknowledgement for the development of every member of this family, and they show this every day. I feel fine being in D-1, I don’t want to leave it ever, but I learned also that sometimes you have to let things go that you most care about to achieve your goals. Next year I’ll graduate and I feel I’m ready for that day.
Thanks to D-1 I’m now interested to study something, I have thought of administration, because that would give me skills to open a similar environment as D-1, that brings help for youth, and also I would like to be one of the best “BBoys” to represent Peru during international contests.
November 2012 Update
Angeles D1 has grown to a point where our assistance is no longer needed. They have been incredibly successful and we feel most proud of our early confidence and support. The school in Pachacutec has had a huge positive impact on the community.