Moving in the SpiritBy Collin Kelley, Editor

Combining dance and athletics to inspire young girls was the goal of “7/7,” a collaborative project between Moving in the Spirit and Georgia State University’s Athletic Department.

The February event paired seven GSU athletes – in sports ranging from volleyball to golf – with seven dancers in MITS’s junior company for girls, who are in the seventh grade. MITS is a local nonprofit that uses dance to help motivate and inspire young people.

The idea for the collaborate came from MITS dance teacher Corissa Castle Wood, who proposed the project during the Falcons Fitness Zone Roundtable Volunteer Challenge.

“The goal was to create a dance piece and have the dancers and athletes connect on a different level,” Wood said. “The girls were not sure what to expect, but were willing to try anything.”

After each dancer was paired up with a GSU athlete, there was a team building session, where the pairs wrote about their role models, habits, qualities, goals and challenges. Then, it was on to a series of exercises, where athletic movements, traditional dance and ideas formed during the writing session were fused to create choreographed pieces.

The MITS dancers are now taking all the duo pieces and combining them into a performance that will be staged as part of the 2009-10 Junior Company Repertoire and be performed during the 2010 Junior Company Tour, and at the “You Grow Girl: Blooming into Leadership” performance sponsored by the Women’s Sports Foundation’s Go Girl Go Community.

Brianna, a member of the MITS junior company, said the project was “very different,” but allowed her to interact with new people and explore the challenges of being a seventh grader. Another dancer, Diamond, said it gave her an opportunity to rise above negative situations and think about her future. Wood said touching on issues like good and poor choices made in seventh grade – and the pressures seventh graders face from parents, society and peers – was integral to the project.

For more information about Moving in the Spirit, visit www.movinginthespirit.org.

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.