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Arts & Culture

Teens Transcend Their Challenges Through Dance

trancenDANCE Youth Arts Project CREATE program participants take a bow at the "Hearts In Action" dress rehearsal on June 27, 2019.
Melaina Spitzer
trancenDANCE Youth Arts Project CREATE program participants take a bow at the "Hearts In Action" dress rehearsal on June 27, 2019.

Teenagers in full stage makeup sprawled across the stage after dress rehearsal, buzzing with excitement.

“I want to give a shout out to Jen,” one teenager piped up. “I want to thank her for that because she made me proud of myself.”

The group broke into applause.

The sense of accomplishment in the theater was palpable. After all, this is no ordinary dance group. The teens are part of the transcenDANCE CREATE Program. It brings together students from underserved communities throughout San Diego to train in dance and transcend their challenges. This weekend is the culmination of that program: the group’s annual dance concert at the Lyceum Theater.

VIDEO: Teens Transcend Their Challenges Through Dance

“The Mission of transcenDANCE is to guide our students to transcend barriers, expand their ambitions and create positive social change through dance and performance,” said executive artistic director Cat Corral.

trancenDANCE participant Carolina Orea outside the Lyceum Theater, June 27, 2019.
Melaina Spitzer
trancenDANCE participant Carolina Orea outside the Lyceum Theater, June 27, 2019.

Carolina Olea, a 19-year-old, said she struggled with anxiety and depression before she came to the transcenDANCE three years ago. She said the leadership training, mentoring, and supportive community at transcenDANCE has helped her find confidence.

“Those three years have taught me so much about myself, about how to grow, how to love myself, how to love others,” Olea said.

Now she says her transcenDANCE “family” is bringing that love to San Diego through a performance focused on creating a culture of kindness.

“We keep teaching people new things when they come to our shows and I think that’s really important,” Olea said. “We’re able to touch people’s hearts with our stories and have people relate to us because we know that we’re not alone.”

This year’s show “Hearts in Action” runs June 28 and 29 at the Lyceum Theatre in downtown San Diego. For tickets, click here.

Teens Transcend Their Challenges Through Dance
By Melaina Spitzer transcenDANCE wants to teach teenagers to dance and take pride in themselves. You can hear this story and other local news every morning by subscribing to San Diego News Matters, KPBS’ daily news podcast. Subscribe via iTunes, Google Play or your favorite podcatcher.