NYU Sophomore Stages GRANT'S SAFARI Benefit for Autism Charities, 3/31

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Javanna Productions and M.O.V.E. for Autism present "Grant's Safari," a multi-media dance performance Choreographed by NYU Sophomore Nicole Johnson, who also serves as Artistic Director for the performance. "Grant's Safari" is narrated by Ms. Johnson's younger brother Grant, who was diagnosed with Autism almost 10 years ago. The performance is staged as a benefit for Autism Speaks and Quality Services for the Autism Community (QSAC), leaders in the fields of Autism research and advocacy. The performance starts at 7PM on March 31, at the Professional Performing Arts High School. Admission is $20.

Producing "Grant's Safari" was a labor of love for Ms. Johnson: "Grant is honestly my inspiration for everything," she explains. "I teach in Queens and the students always ask me why I compare movement to animals when I'm teaching. I realized that I refer to animals because I grew up watching them with Grant. He studies animals so intently." Through a digital media and movement performance the dancers serve as the safari and Grant Johnson himself serves as the audience's guide, press notes state. The one hour performance includes elements of both Hip-Hip and Contemporary Movement. The dancers are all members of the Broadway Dance Center's educational program, where Ms. Johnson heads up the community service division. The dancers featured in "Grant's Safari" are drawn from the dance center's Professional Semester & International Student Visa programs to present a truly international group of performers. In addition to the United States, the production includes dancers from Canada, Bolivia, Spain and France.

Ms. Johnson first began staging productions to raise money for charity in 2009. She founded Javanna Productions for the purpose of producing M.O.V.E. for Autism, a yearly performance that raises funds for and awareness of the disorder before the start of Autism Awareness Month in April. M.O.V.E. stands for: motivation, opportunity, vision, and entertainment. The first M.O.V.E performance raised over 2,000 dollars for Autism Speaks in 2009. In addition to their Autism productions, M.O.V.E. also expands its reach to include other charitable causes. Each year, explains Ms. Johnson, "members of the organization learn about a prevalent social issue and then dedicate an entire year to raising funds and awareness for that issue." The other issues M.O.V.E. supports include education for children in Cambodia, assistance for devastated regions like Uganda and Ghana-even Celiac disease. 

In the three years M.O.V.E has been in existence it has raised 15,000 dollars for charity. "I had the opportunity to work with MOVE while working at the United Nations and have been most impressed," says Leonore de Roquefeuil, consultant for the United Nations Programme on Youth, "not only by their efficient, inventive and very professional work but also by their genuine commitment and enthusiasm to helping others worldwide. MOVE has something to say and delivers it in a beautiful way."

Nicole Johnson is a sophomore enrolled in the NYU Gallatin program where she is pursing courses related to the practice of socially responsible artistry. Her credits include New York-based productions of: "A Chorus Line", "Bye Bye Birdie" and "Into the Woods" which earned her the National Youth Theater Award for Best Lead Actress in a Musical. She was featured on Season 8 of "So You Think You Can Dance." Ms. Johnson is also a delegate of the United Nations International Year of Youth Program and has received the UN Allykatzz Leads Linking Youth award. For more information visit: www.jpmove.webs.com.


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