Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Breakdancing Against Violence in Haiti

Life on the streets and narrow alleyways of Cité Soleil, Haiti’s largest and most notorious slum, can be grim. Children scavenge for recyclable materials in putrid canals; dusty, fatigued women carry baskets on their heads after a day of selling under the grudging sun; and groups of unemployed young men sit idly in front of buildings pockmarked with bullet holes.

But in the midst of all this, in a roofless abandoned house, a group called Cyborg Dance offers young boys an opportunity to escape the chaos of the shanty town through breakdancing. Spread out across the floor, the dancers perform one move after another. A few focus on jerking pop-and-lock sequences, some practice their acrobatics, and others rehearse choreographed dances in small groups.

“Dancing is like a virus,” says Wendy Lazaire, a founding member of Cyborg Dance. “There are too many kids in Cité Soleil that have an empty stomach and an empty mind. We at least need to plant the dancing virus in their minds.”

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