Moving in the Spirit’s Men in Motion troupe will celebrate its tenth anniversary with performances on Feb. 23 and 24 at the Beam Theater, 750 Glenwood Ave., in Atlanta. Showtimes are  6 p.m. on Saturday and 3 p.m. and 5 p.m. on Sunday. Tickets are $12 for adults, $6 for ages 13 and under, and free for children under the age of three.

Male choreographers and dancers from Emory University’s dance program will join the festivities, setting new work on Men in Motion and performing alongside the troupe. Comprised of contemporary dance and hip-hop, the performance will deliver Men in Motion’s signature blend of bold physicality and inspiration.

Nationally recognized as one of the nation’s top youth development programs, Moving in the Spirit uses dance to help young people, many from Atlanta’s most challenged neighborhoods, overcome the obstacles they face each day and realize the potential for their lives. Its Men in Motion program was created ten years ago by Chris McCord, himself an alumnus of Moving in the Spirit, with the purpose of providing boys ages 8-13 with an alternative to street life and a path to achievement.

Since 2003, the program has grown from a handful of boys to two separate classes divided by age and technical ability. Male mentors from the community volunteer with the classes, and professional male dancers and choreographers from Atlanta have performed in the troupe’s annual show and taught workshops, including noted artists Daryl Foster, Leon Von Brown, Corian Ellisor and Blake Dalton. 100% of Men in Motion students who stay with Moving in the Spirit through their senior year go on to graduate from high school and enroll in college or vocational programs.

A partnership with Emory University’s dance program has propelled Men in Motion’s growth over the past three years, impacting students’ technical dance ability and increasing their access to male role models. Greg Catellier, dance faculty member at Emory and creator of the acclaimed Catellier Dance Projects, is setting new contemporary work on Men in Motion in honor of its 10th anniversary. Julio Medina, a senior dance student at Emory and a Men in Motion teaching artist, collaborated with Men in Motion students to create a competition hip-hop piece that the group will perform at its annual show. An all-male hip-hop crew based at Emory, TrickaNomeTry, has also been working with the group over the past three years and will fully integrate Men in Motion into one of its pieces this winter. TrickaNomeTry and Men in Motion will perform together at both the 10th Annual Men in Motion Show and the AHANA Spring Concert 2013 at Emory University.

“Our partnership with Emory’s dance program has been invaluable to our students’ growth and self-esteem,” says Chris McCord, Men in Motion Director. “Being exposed to Emory’s students and faculty has given the boys in Men in Motion a sense that college is attainable, which is something they weren’t thinking about before. The group of Emory students coming to work with Men in Motion is very diverse. For example, their student teacher, Julio, is a hispanic male from a challenging neighborhood in LA who now attends a rigorous college and studies both traditional dance and hip-hop. They see this highly diverse male who is confident in his identity and they begin to feel confidence as well.”

The partnership has also positively impacted the lives of Emory’s students. “What draws Emory’s dance program to partner with Moving in the Spirit is the similarity of goals,” shares faculty member Greg Catellier. “Both organizations enrich the lives of young people through the art of dance. By witnessing the amazing work that all the Moving in the Spirit teachers do, the Emory students learn lessons that will serve them as teachers, parents and leaders.” Adds student Julio Medina, “Most Emory students I know, including myself, have become better leaders through their involvement at Moving In the Spirit. We have met extraordinary people, including staff, faculty, parents, and students, and have joined an incomparable network of motivated people.”

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Collin Kelley

Collin Kelley has been the editor of Atlanta Intown for two decades and has been a journalist and freelance writer for 35 years. He’s also an award-winning poet and novelist.