Wyndham 3029 – More than just a dance class
25 newly arrived migrant, refugee and asylum seeker youth participate in free weekly hip hop dance classes, facilitated by not-for-profit organisation L2R, thanks to funding support from Arts Assist. The program provides much more than a series of dance workshops. As Jacinda Richards, Founder and CEO of L2R comments “The workshops address immediate settlement issues, and create a safe place for young people to dance and connect. A lot of these kids have suffered disadvantaged from their refugee and migration experience, so even just coming and having some food, a piece of fruit and a chat with some mates is pretty important.”
Jacinda continues “We are really building community through the people we work with. The Wyndham 3029 program is all about creating a fun space, a safe space, and a place where everyone is from a different background and that’s ok. It’s about building cultural awareness and acceptance. Dance is a big part of this. They all want to dance. Dance transcends those barriers for these young people and it’s a way they can communicate and express themselves”.
The dance students, aged between 11 and 18 years, come together on a weekly basis throughout the school year, come from a variety of culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds, speak English as a second language, and live in Melbourne’s western suburbs. L2R has been running Wyndham 3029 for the last 3 years at the Wyndham Youth Resource Centre in Hoppers Crossing. The free dance classes are facilitated by Jacinda as the Teaching Artist and assisted by Emerging Artist, Monday Kumonoo. Monday is from Karen cultural background, a former L2R dance student, who now takes part as an emerging artist in the L2R pathways program and acts as a mentor to the youth, providing peer to peer mentoring.
The group recently performed at the 2018 Victorian Multicultural Festival. “For a young person who has been here for six months and going to Finders Street and performing in one of Melbourne’s biggest cultural festivals is a pretty cool thing for them to do. And then to see a photo of themselves on social media is pretty empowering too” said Jacinda.
All the hard work will culminate in L2R’s annual community festival, the L2R Experience on 24 November 2018 at the Footscray Community Arts Centre. In 2017, over 50 youth dancers, two sold outs shows and over 350 community members came together to celebrate this annual event. “The end-of year performance is a highlight for Wyndham 3029 participants. This is the first time many students bring their parents” said Jacinda. The festival will include a picnic, workshops, bands and performances by the 3029 crew and other L2R dance groups.
For more details visit the L2R website
We look forward to following the Wyndham 3029 and L2R journey.
The Wyndham 2029 dancers performing as part of the 2018 Victorian Multicultural Festival at Federation Square on 24 March 2018.
Photography courtesy of Nicky Dracoulis, Artlife Studios