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Groove With Me, Free Dance School For Girls, Celebrates 25th Anniversary

Through free dance lessons and the opportunity to perform, Groove With Me attracts and engages girls during out-of-school hours when 90% of youth violence occurs.

Groove With Me, Free Dance School For Girls, Celebrates 25th Anniversary

Groove With Me is celebrating 25 years in June 2021. Started in 1996 on the Lower East Side with only three girls, the organization now engages more than 350 girls a year.

The dedicated team of staff and volunteers aim to empower young women while providing a safe and creative space to grow and flourish. Through free dance lessons and the opportunity to perform, Groove With Me attracts and engages girls during out-of-school hours when 90% of youth violence occurs.

Founder Abigail McCreath says, "It is beyond my wildest dreams that we have grown so big. I hope that each child carries her time here in her heart and believes in herself as she forges a bright future."

Our girls face serious challenges, especially in a year like 2020 when COVID-19 had an outsized impact on their homes and communities in East Harlem & the South Bronx, and when social unrest further tested the identity in these neighborhoods. Groove With Me offered them a safe place to thrive and to belong.

Attendance during the pandemic is the highest it's been in years, demonstrating our girls' need for this sense of belonging & normalcy. "It's a place where I don't worry what people think of me ... during the pandemic, school from home has been difficult and 'performing' well has felt really hard ... at GWM, I can be myself ...", stated one of the girls in the program.

Groove With Me gives girls the opportunity to experience many dance disciplines and explore different cultures. For instance, in Polynesian, the girls designed a traditional "tapa" fabric with symbols representing their personal strengths. Classes have included ballet, modern, contemporary, hip hop, jazz, theater jazz, tap, Polynesian, NIA, yoga, creative movement, Masala Bhangra, African, Afro-Latin, Afro-beat, bachata salsa, salsa, Bollywood, belly dancing, audition/stretch class, mommy-n-me, lyrical poetry, step, Mom In Heels, and moms' workout class.

Groove With Me is made possible by the 40 amazing volunteer dance teachers. Nobody gives up their time to stay late in Harlem unless they believe in giving back to the girls. Twenty percent of teachers have taught for more than 7 years. Six teachers, at this time, are alumni.

Over the last 25 years, Groove With Me has impacted over 3000 girls. One alumni said she chose her major in Early Childhood Education after teaching dance to the younger children through our Teen Leadership program. Alumni say that Groove With Me made them more confident, more well-rounded, and more hardworking. An alumni survey found that 85% of participants were involved in a community organization and 47% of those were a leader in the organization.

Every June, all 250 girls perform in the year-end recital. From 2008-2013, girls had the chance to grace the stage at the World Famous Apollo Theater. The recital is now held at the United Palace Theater. It has 3500 seats that are free and open to the public so girls can invite as many people as they like. Additionally, Groove With Me performs several other times throughout the year. Notable events have included the Children's Festival of Harlem Week, the IOC Women in Sports Award Ceremony at the UN, The Nutcracker NYC at Alvin Ailey Citigroup Theater, and The Today Show.

For more information visit: https://www.groovewithme.org/


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