Scarborough Arts Council partners with youth-run dance collective

When Lakesha Bambury, 19, suggested to her friend Cleon Mills, 21, that he turn his passion for dance into a program to help young people achieve their dreams of professional dancing, neither of them realized what they were setting into motion.

The I Have a Dream program is drawing interest from across Scarborough.

The program provides “an environment for your dreams to grow,” Bambury said.

In partnership with Scarborough Arts Council, I Have a Dream offers free dance workshops in a variety of genres, including contemporary and hip-hop.

Students will perform their routines in the community and will also be videotaped so they can track their progress.

“We want to make them versatile, [give them a] variety of skills,” said Bambury. “We’re not looking for professionals because this is a program for people to grow.”

The workshops will be based on professional dance training. The idea is to introduce youth to dances they can’t easily learn elsewhere, Bambury said.

The two friends hope the program will be a stepping-stone for other things, inspiring youth to “make that little spark in them a fire,” she said.

The Laidlaw Foundation provided funding for the program. Bambury, Mills and the Scarborough Arts Council are currently negotiating for instructors and a studio.

The SAC will play an administrative role — bridging the gap between the creative aspect of the program and the funding bodies that will help the program come to life, said SAC program co-ordinator Benedict Lopes.

“It’s really about highlighting and showcasing the cultural wealth that already exists in Scarborough,” Lopes said.

Youth between the ages of 15 and 21 were invited to register online and attend auditions held on Nov. 18 and 25 for the program.

Workshops are expected to begin in the second week of January. Anyone looking to join the program can contact the SAC or become a member of the I Have A Dream Facebook group.

“If a dancer is willing to invest the time, we are willing to invest the time and effort and creative guidance to take it to the next level,” Lopes said.