MOVE: A Trauma Informed Dance Program

Five to six girls piled into my car ready to get to practice by 9 am on a Saturday or anxious to get home for homework and sleep after their 2.5 hour weekday practice. Doing the same part of a dance until their eyes roll. Holding the talking piece in a restorative circle to address respect and learn how their anger is an expression of hurt. Putting back on clothes to jump in the car so that a dancer and her family gets to school in the morning. 

CORE is the first dance team at Detroit's Public School, Henderson Academy. In an underprivileged area, the girls have stepped outside of their comfort zone of popular street dancing and are learning Ballet, Contemporary, Majorette, Jazz, Step, and Congolese lead by a choreographer. The school's budget doesn't allow for the covering of shoes, fees related to showcase registration, transportation to competitions and performances, or even uniforms that would make our fifteen girls feel confident. 

Uniforms and shoes purchased can easily be used for more than one dance genre and help to establish a consistent team look. Our parents are excited to see their children have this opportunity, offering to host bake sales, purchase snacks for practices, and wanting to schedule team outings for socioemotional growth. Our current budget of $530 raised through the initial registration cost will not sustain the team until June 2019 and with the financial situation of most of our families, additional asks would bring a true hardship and likely the removal of their student from the team. This means we've got to find more money.

Because the average uniform can cost $200 and we're also committed to each dancer's emotional well-being, the money raised here will allow the team to have:

•Performance wear
•Dance footwear 
•Session Supplies (e.g. sensory modalities, journals)
•Field trips for exposure 
•Weekend trauma-centered retreat

This isn't just a dance team made of enthusiasm. CORE is a movement-based project created to improve childhood trauma related outcomes through the journey of dance. Participants explore emotion and problem solving with choreographed movements and group sessions. As their Creative Director who is also a Trauma Practitioner, I witness these girls dance out their pain, joys, anger, and sadness. We don't wash over their feelings and challenges in their school day. The Co-Director (a special education professional) and I talk to parents and go into classrooms. I show up consistently, so that they begin to learn that they can show up for themselves. So that they learn they are important enough for someone to show up for them. I am crazy about my girls and go over and beyond because they need it. I want the young people of CORE to come out better than they started: resilient, excelling academically, culturally exposed, curious and dedicated about who they're becoming.
Risks and challenges
Three foreseeable challenges could be the invitation to perform before appropriate funds can be raised as well as the shipping of ordered uniforms delaying performing opportunities. It will also be important to be included in the school's budget in order to sustain the long-term funding needs of the team from a consistent source.


  • Sharon Wilson  
    • $25 
    • 7 mos
  • Marvin English 
    • $50 
    • 7 mos
  • Maria Barlow 
    • $30 
    • 8 mos
  • Anonymous 
    • $30 
    • 8 mos
  • Catherine Armstrong 
    • $200 
    • 8 mos


Brittni Ann-Marie 
Detroit, MI
Just Speak, Incorporated 
Registered nonprofit
Donations are 100% tax deductible.
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