New Expression has been loving the recent heat wave in Atlanta! Our NXP youth in Clarkston got a break from the cold weather for some playtime outside doing sports, dance, and art with new friends. It was a great way to start off the new year!
This past Sunday volunteers put on a little skit to show New Expression Clarkston what it’s like when you aren’t being yourself. Jack, one of the volunteers, walked in and leaned on the wall, playing “too cool” to participate in New Expression.
“What can we do to help Jack be himself?” another volunteer asked. [Read more…]
Abbie is a young artist that has been a part of the crew volunteering at the New Expression Clarkston location. Here’s a little insight into her heart to serve:
If I could eat fruit for every meal for the rest of my life I totally would!
Why did you decide to become a volunteer in Clarkston?
I love different cultures and I love helping people so it is the perfect mix of those two things. I feel purposed in my heart to work with refugees and when I’m there I know it connects. Clarkston is a beautiful place with beautiful people!
Before there was New Expression, there was Random Acts of Theatre Company (affectionately, RATCo). The story of this program at its flagship location in Selma, Alabama, was artfully told through a documentary called I WILL DANCE. The program lives on today as New Expression and the film can now live on as a household name as online downloads of the film are NOW AVAILABLE!
You can rent or buy, and all proceeds will go to the programs of Something New.
Check out the film trailer and purchase the movie at www.IWILLDANCEMovie.com.
New Expression Denver is working on its first ever Film Festival. The youth are loving it as they learn by doing from concepting to storyboarding to directing and shooting to editing. The person behind it all? Meet Joseph East.
I always loved movies, and from an early age wanted to tell stories.
In middle and high school I found an outlet for telling stories in theater, performing in musicals like Wizard of Oz, Fiddler on the Roof and Into the Woods.
As a kid, I wanted to make my own movies, but only got so far because of limited resources. As I got older, I began to learn the impact movies could have on people–their ability to touch hearts, spark conversations and ignite change.
At first I thought I wanted to make big Hollywood movies like the ones I loved growing up, so I enrolled at the Colorado Film School. But while at school I discovered documentaries– stories about the struggles, joys and journeys of real people. Documentaries introduced me to a whole new world, and I decided to pursue this new world wholeheartedly.
I Will Dance
That led to Selma, AL and the story of RATCo (now New Expression). For three years on a journey that took me from Selma to New York City, I shot and edited a feature-length documentary that became I Will Dance, a story about a group of young people breaking cycles and defying statistics through music, dance and spoken word poetry. The documentary has toured festivals and broadcast on PBS in Colorado.
In many ways, Selma changed my life. There I met my wife, Alicia (also a writer and producer for I Will Dance). [Read more…]
Contributed by Shania
Hey my name Shania! I got to do this really cool thing with Kleenex and Sheyann Webb. Check it out HERE. I had a whole lot of fun making this and spending the day with Sheyann. She has been a big inspiration to me for a long time. Seeing the courage she had at a young age to stand up for what she knew was right has given me the courage to stand up too. Even though she was only 8, she knew she could make an impact. For me that is an inspiration because sometimes I can think that what I have to say may not be as important because I am young, but that is not what she did. So I thought it was an awesome experience doing that with her and Kleenex.
I have been in New Expression since I was 5. New Expression has really shown me that I have a voice and that I can make a difference. In school I got bullied a lot for not being like other people or just being different, and it really hurt a lot. Then when I came to New Expression I found more confidence and my voice, and it really made me want to stand up for the people that also get bullied or don’t have a voice. New Expression has really given me courage and is a place I found freedom just to be me.
To learn more about Shania’s story of integrating Morgan Academy, CLICK HERE. This was a video done by the Freedom Foundation prior to rebranding as Something New and New Expression!
Contributed by Julie McGowan
Here is how Something New is making the world a better place!
We recently teamed up with Lutheran Services of Georgia (LSG) to celebrate New Americans living in Georgia. Students from a variety of backgrounds, both newcomers and long-time Georgia residents, worked to prepare a message about how we are better together. We traveled to the Georgia State Capital for a day of advocacy and (of course) dancing! Then to finish off the celebration, we witnessed a naturalization ceremony for immigrants from all over the world.
The students met previously at LSG Kid’s Club and we are so excited to see many new friendships continue. LSG serves over 1500 refugees every year providing resettlement, employment and other services. Click Here to find out more about their incredible mission.
Check out this video to get a taste of the excitement!
Kendall Stark is the Director of the Denver chapter of New Expression, and she has been leading the Community Outreach workshops for youth in the Denver area. In a recent interview, she explained why she started the class, and why she feels it’s necessary:
“Community service is my favorite component of New Expression. Our culture is very centered around self, and consumed with what we ‘want,’ so a service workshop is a perfect way to push outside our comfort zones to help people. Making those connections with others is beautiful. I absolutely LOVE seeing the kids engage with the community!” Kendall has noticed that while the young volunteers may not initially feel they can relate with the people they serve, as they get into it, they find they actually do have a lot in common.
Kendall has worked to form a partnership between New Expression and the Victorian House (an assisted living facility) in Parker. “The kids have a great time talking with the residents, playing games and doing art projects.” She takes a group to the Victorian House several times a month.
This Spring, Kendall has designed part of the workshop to especially focus on our youngest participants, those age 4-8. She feels there is a very special gift that this age group can give, especially to our elderly community. “It’s incredible to see how the residents respond to the youngest kids. It is powerful! Part of my goal for this workshop is to provide opportunities for our kids to make connections with our older community members on a regular basis. So both groups can have these positive experiences they wouldn’t have otherwise.”
She also is developing service projects to support the work of the Ronald McDonald House in the area, and The Crossing (a homeless shelter).
Kendall believes that giving back to the community is an enriching experience for youth of all ages, and adults as well. She plans to expand this program in the seasons to come. “Any age is welcome to come!” She said in closing. “There is fun to be had by all!”
(contributed by Cora Davis and Amanda Farnsworth)
Markese Hunter lives as if music is always playing the background. If he doesn’t have drumsticks in his hand, you’re likely to catch him freestyling or choreographing instead. He has a gift for sensing rhythm wherever he goes–which he used to choreograph a dance to “Lift Me Up” by David Guetta (ft. Nico & Vinz and Ladysmith Black Mambazo). Check it out below:
Sometimes, it’s the beat of a song that inspires him to put moves to music. But this time, he was inspired by the lyrics. “This song has a lot of inspirational things in it, so I knew it was good to put some inspirational moves in it. Something hyped up, to get the creative juices flowing,” he said. The lyrics that inspired him the most:
“I’m just like you, why you trynna bring me down?
I’m just like you, help me turn this thing around.”
This lyric expresses something Markese feels deeply: how important it is to realize that we are all alike; and that when we work together, we can make this world a better place.
If you watch New Expression perform, you may see several unique original moves in Markese’s choreography. One of these moves he named the “Jump Dab.” He explains, “The ‘Jump Dab’ came from the ‘Dab.’ A lot of people know the ‘Dab’ from Cam Newton doing it. The ‘Jump Dab’ is a flavor that we added to it.”
Whether it’s the “Dab” or the “Dougie,” Markese makes sure that his dances are simple enough for all ages to be able to dance along. “I slow them down. Like how we changed the ‘Dab’ to the ‘Jump Dab,’ you gotta work with people and meet them where they’re at. That’s what I did. I try not to make it too complicated or hard, so everyone can dance to it without thinking about it so much when they’re dancing,” he said.