Dance keeps kids safe

2018-02-06 06:01
Tiana Arends from Isaac Walk in Ottery PHOTOS: aishah cassiem

Tiana Arends from Isaac Walk in Ottery PHOTOS: aishah cassiem

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A young dancer from Ottery is on her feet to ensure that children in her community are kept busy with beneficial activities throughout the week.
Tiana Arends, a 25-year-old dance instructor from Isaac Way, says she started her community project “Dance with Purpose” with the aim of steering children away from the gang-infested lifestyle growing within her community.

Her initiative uses the art of dance to promote holistic wellbeing, healthy lifestyle choices and empowerment.

“Many of these children look up to gangsters as their role models and sooner or later they end up joining these gangs themselves. Dance with Purpose was my dream project started a few years ago, specifically with the aim of steering them away from this lifestyle,” says Arends.

“I host my programmes, which include dancing and educational activities, at a little centre situated in the heart of where it all occurs. The flats surrounding the centre are packed with gangs from different groups, often making it difficult for kids to walk in the area. But when children come to the centre it’s a whole new world for them and they enjoy each and every bit of it.”

Arends says dancing has always been her passion, but she was only recently able to fulfil her dance dreams after dropping out of university.

“When I was at school, performing arts were not an option at the time. My parents didn’t have the money for extra dance classes, so I just left it. I went to study journalism years later but my parents could no longer afford the fees and I was forced to drop out. This was when I met a group of dancers who encouraged me join them,” she explains.

“I got inspired at this stage and started entering dance competitions and various community events. Soon after, I found myself starting my own group with my friends, who together helped to make this project a reality, basically with the aim of accommodating kids whose parents can’t afford dance classes. Today I offer my services to them free of charge so they can fulfil their dreams.”

She says the aim of her group is to train as many young people as possible to become extraordinary dancers by having multiple sustainable dance training programmes that allow the dancers to reach their full potential in life and perhaps go on to become professional dancers, qualified dance teachers and choreographers.

Arends’s other achievements since establishing Dance with Purpose include hosting the Ward 66 Talent Show in partnership with the City of Cape Town. 

She was also the African Hip-Hop Indaba Krump female winner for 2017. She worked as a dancer in a production called Show King in South Korea in 2015, while her choreography featured in the 2014 Baxter Dance Festival fringe programme.

Other performance highlights for her group include partaking in the Philip Morris International Panther Launch, Hectic Nine 9s Dance Crew Battles, UWC Jazz Rag, World Design Capital NYE Grand Parade Party 2013, CHAN Opening Ceremony, Cape Town’s Most Wanted Show, Goodhope FM DJ Ready D’s Live Show, Cape Town International Jazz Festival 2017 and SACTWU Spring Queen Final among others.

“Our goals for 2018 are to also have sustainable dance programmes in every community centre where youth at risk have been identified. We are currently running a drive called ‘Cents for Change’, which is an initiative that uses spare change to enact positive change in the communities,” she says.

“Another drive we are busy with is the toiletry drive, an initiative where we collect toiletries to donate to those who are in need of these essentials. We want parents within underprivileged communities to come forward and encourage their kids to take part in healthy activities instead of falling into the trap of drugs and gangsterism. We are trying to make a difference in the lives of those in need and can only do so with the public’s assistance.”

For more information, visit Dance with Purpose on Facebook

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