We have been privileged to work with and mentor phenomenal young women. We are now in our third year of the growing Girls Raks Bellydance and Body Image Program, a fiscally sponsored project supported by Dancers’ Group. In our development of Girls Raks, we had an understanding that it was not enough to just teach girls some bellydance movements and choreography. We knew we had to go beyond bellydance. Before the girls could even begin to engage with the dance, they required some “head and heart” time to have some tangible tools to resist the negative messaging about themselves and their bodies.
Ellissia is one of the young women we worked with in our first year of Girls Raks. Soon to complete her junior year at Dillard University in New Orleans, Ellissia is a bold, bright gem. When I think of why Girls Raks has meaning for me, I think of Ellissia as a high school student—bursting with beauty, missing her mother, scared to leave Oakland, and on the edge of understanding her power as a young woman. The woman Ellissia is growing into is whole.
At our April Raks! Benefit this Saturday, Tammy and I are dancing for Ellissia and all of the brilliant Girls Raks girls we have mentored and will mentor. We see your faces painted with courage, strength and survival. We hear your quiet stories of resistance and risk-taking. We celebrate your hearts and your reflections. We dance for you to love yourselves fiercely and fully.
If you are in the Bay Area, please join us on Saturday for our April Raks! Benefit. If you are not local to us, please help build our 2012 Girls Raks Scholarship Fund.
April Raks! A Benefit for the 2012 Girls Raks Bellydance and Body Image Program
Saturday, April 21st at 2pm
La Peña Cultural Center Café Lobby
3105 Shattuck Avenue in Berkeley
$10-$20 Sliding Scale
Girls Raks 2010
Girls Raks 2011
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