German students express themselves with American hip-hop(Read article summary)
Vocational students in Germany are given a rare chance to be in the spotlight through a partnership with an American dance organization that works with disadvantaged youth.
Isabelle de Pommereau
â€˘ A local, slice-of-life story from a Monitor correspondent.
If, a few weeks back, youâ€™d asked Duc-Tin Thung to dance in front of hundreds of spectators, he would have stared at you as if you had just arrived from the moon. â€śI would never ever dare,â€ť says Duc-Tin, a Frankfurt vocational school ninth-grader.
But recently, he twisted and turned his body hip-hop style on a basketball court in a routine he had choreographed partially through Dancing to Connect, a groundbreaking project that partners professional dancers from New Yorkâ€™s Battery Dancing Company and Drastic Action with children, often from disadvantaged backgrounds.
In a country that tracks children into university-bound and vocational schools as early as age 9 or 10, vocational schools like Duc-Tinâ€™s are often called â€śleftover schools,â€ť because they are where immigrants and children from low socioeconomic backgrounds often get relegated. Dancing to Connect boosts the confidence of children like Duc-Tin, and helps educators see those pupils in a different light.
â€śI would not in my wildest dreams have imagined that my pupils are capable of performing the way they did,â€ť says Heinrich KĂ¶ssler, principal of Duc-Tinâ€™s school, the Theodor-Heuss-Schule.
â€śThose kids needed to overcome lots of barriers, but there was an authenticity in everything they did,â€ť says Dancing to Connect founder Jonathan Hollander, who is also artistic director of New Yorkâ€™s Battery Dance Company. Mr. Hollanderâ€™s Dancing to Connect sponsors workshops with professional dancers in schools across Germany.