Beginning in 2006, Jean Appolon conceived and has since directed a free annual Summer Dance Institute in Port-au-Prince that serves young, aspiring Haitian dancers who do not have regular access to dance education. During the years that Appolon has directed this Institute, there have been no other comparable opportunities for young dancers in Haiti. Paying for dance classes is not possible for most young Haitians, and opportunities to study Haitian folkloric dance are limited inside of Haiti.
Students benefit from DANCE HAITI! in numerous ways. In addition to struggling to get an education and to help provide for their families, the daily challenges these students face are many. Dance heals body, mind and spirit and is also associated with the outcomes listed below:
Studying folkloric dance supports a connection between dancers and Haitian folkloric culture
Dance education benefits students’ self-esteem and self-image
Dance education is healing and therapeutic, requiring a union of body and mind, and is a refuge from life’s difficulties where one can find an outlet through corporeal expression
Dance education strengthens perseverance, which is essential to combating life’s challenges
Intensive participation in the arts improves academic performance, school attendance and graduation rates
The Jean Appolon Summer Dance Institute runs for four weeks, Monday – Friday, from 9:00 – 4:00pm at the Ecole Nationale des Artes in downtown Port-au-Prince. Please see below for a detailed daily schedule. An open audition is held in order to select approximately 50 participants for the Institute. The Institute culminates with a public performance.
9:00 – 10:00AM: Yoga
10:00 – 11:30AM: Modern technique (Dunham/Horton)
11:30 – 12:30AM: Lunch (at no cost to students)
12:30 – 2:00PM: Haitian traditional dance
2:00 – 4:00PM: Rehearse repertoire
The magic that happens at Dance Haiti! is too good to keep to ourselves. Here's what happened this year.
Jean Appolon Expressions (JAE) conducted its 2017 Summer Dance Institute, hosted by the Hotel Oloffson located in downtown Port-au-Prince, Haiti. For the first time, the program ran for six weeks (from June 24 - August 4) instead of four weeks and the results were impressive. On Saturday June 24th, 120 children and young adults attended the open audition. Eighty seven young Haitian dancers were selected to participate in this free, intensive and holistic dance program based on a comprehensive curriculum. The Institute culminated with a Final Performance that honored Vivianne Gauthier: an icon of traditional Haitian dance who recently passed at the age of 99. Vivianne was one of Jean’s most cherished teachers, who transmitted her passion, knowledge and strength to him over the years and will forever remain the inspiration behind his work with youth around the world. The students performed six original choreographies by Jean Appolon and four from guest artists, for an audience of approximately 220 people that included their family members and friends, as well as Haitian and foreign dignitaries.
The 2017 Institute was unique for multiple reasons. This was the first year that several younger children, aged 5-9 years old, participated in the intensive program. JAE lead a beginner and intermediate modern class each day, in order to provide appropriate instruction to the different levels. There was also opportunity for the older students to mentor and nurture the younger children and help boost their confidence, which created a general sense of camaraderie amongst the group. JAE hopes to continue working with these young dancers over the next several years, in order to keep consistency in their training.
This year also stood out for the amount of guest teachers, who traveled far and wide, to volunteer and teach at JAE’s program. Colette Coenraets came all the way from Brussels, Belgium, where she owns and directs the largest dance center in the region, Choreart. JAE’s students enjoyed taking technical classes in Ballet and traditional Jazz dance from Colette. She also choreographed a contemporary ballet for our youngest students. Mayra Hernandez came from Boston to complete an internship with JAE, as a portion of her M.ed in Arts, Community and Education, through Lesley University. Mayra lead yoga and beginner modern classes and also choreographed Horton-based modern pieces for both the beginner and intermediate students. Raphaelle Francois, now based in the Dominican Republic, taught a fierce Afro Contemporary class. Isabelle Morse, former JAE company dancer, worked alongside Jean to help teach the beginner modern classes and assist with choreography. Nicole Lumarque, one of Jean’s formative dance teachers, lead modern classes and created a strong choreography. David National Theater of Haiti, Folkloric Haitian Dance
The Final Performance at Hotel Oloffson was indeed a great achievement, along with the distribution of 67 certificates that documented the student's successful completion of the intensive dance course. The Institute's impact was felt at many levels, including the students' artistic and technical accomplishments; the students' social and personal growth; and the civic and cultural pride that comes with teaching and showcasing Haitian folkloric dance, music and culture as a precious resource.
The demographics of the students who participated in the 2017 Institute were as follows:
87 students enrolled
Ages ranged from 5 - 28
Average student age was 17
67 girls and 20 boys participated
25% had participated in the Institute in a prior year(s)
67 students received completion certificates
Each weekday, from Monday - Friday, the students participated in the following:
9:00 - 10:00am: Yoga
10:00 - 11:00am: Beginner Modern dance
11:00-12:00pm Intermediate Modern dance/Ballet/Jazz
11:30 - 12:30pm: Lunch (provided at no cost to the students)
12:30 - 2:00pm: Haitian folkloric dance
2:00 - 4:00pm: Repertoire
The 2017 Jean Appolon Summer Dance Institute was made possible through the support of many generous individual donors from the U.S. and elsewhere, and with support from Hotel Oloffson, FOKAL, and
Some outcomes of the Institute are as follows:
195 free hours of high quality yoga and dance instruction were provided
2610 free lunches were provided
10+ Haitian staff were employed: 1 carpenter (+assistants), 5 percussionists, 1 Coordinator, 1 Guest faculty, 1 Media Liaison, 2 logistics assistants
225 guests attended the Final Performance, including the students' families and friends, as well as leaders from the cultural, non-profit and government sectors, and from foreign embassies
Total cost of the Institute = $30,000
"Per student cost" = $25 per day
$1700 for water for students
$550 per drummer ($2750 total)
Jean Appolon Expressions summer programming reached far beyond Port Au Prince this year. As a team, JAE offered dance and wellness lessons to students across several Haitian communities, including Timo, Arcahaie, Cite Soleil, and Jeremie. Some of this programming was made possible with the help of JAE’s dedicated donors, we thank you graciously for your ongoing, individual support. We were also happy to collaborate with three inspiring non-profits; Hope On a String (Arcahaie), The Andrew Grene Foundation (Cite Soleil) and The Women and Children’s Hope Foundation (Timo).
Jean-Sebastien Duvilaire lead a one week dance intensive for girls at The Women and Children’s Hope Foundation in Timo, Haiti. This educational program was held M-Th from 9-4pm each day for nine girls, aged 11-19 years. The students focused on mind and body conditioning, Modern technique, Folkloric Haitian Dance and choreographic skills. Jean-Sebastien traveled with the girls and their chaperones from WCHF to Port Au Prince for JAE’s final performance at the Oloffson Hotel on Friday August 4th. The students were able to witness the transformative final product, after six rigorous weeks spent in JAE’s PAP Summer Intensive.
For the fourth year in a row, Jean Appolon collaborated with Hope On a String, a non-profit that has successfully educated and empowered youth through music and the performing arts for years in Arcahaie, Haiti.
JAE was excited to partner with the Andrew Grene Foundation for a one day workshop at their program in Cite Soleil. It was an inspiring day filled with dancing, drumming and laughter.
Jean-Sebastien Duvilaire welcomed JAE to his hometown of Jeremie, Haiti in August 2017. Sebastien lead a two week dance, drum and wellness intensive with roughly 40 students. Jean Appolon and his drummers from Port Au Prince journeyed to this beautiful capital city of the Grand'Anse department, to guest teach at the program. JAE looks forward to expanding its offerings in Jeremie in the near future.
Jean Appolon Expressions (JAE) conducted The 2016 Jean Appolon Summer Dance Institute, hosted by the Hotel Oloffson located in downtown Port-au-Prince, Haiti, from June 25 – July 24, 2015. On June 25th, an open audition was attended by 89 students. Sixty young Haitian dancers were selected to participate in a free, intensive and high quality dance education based on a comprehensive curriculum. The Institute concluded with a Final Performance that honored Four Women Pioneers of Haitian Dance: Emerante de Pradines, Katherine Dunham, Vivianne Gauther and Lavinia Williams. The students performed six original choreographies by Jean Appolon for an audience of approximately 200 people that included their family members and friends, as well as Haitian and foreign dignitaries.
The 2016 Institute was characterized by an extremely positive ‘esprit de corps’ on the part of the participating students as well as the staff. Each day, students were focused and on time, some traveling 4+ hours round trip to participate. The Institute exemplified JAE’s philosophy of ‘by working together we can achieve something great.’ The Final Performance was indeed a great achievement as was the distribution of 56 certificates that documented the student’s successful completion of the intensive dance course. Please click here for a video, and here for photos, of The Final Performance. The Institute’s impact was felt at many levels, including the students’ artistic and technical accomplishments; the students’ social and personal growth; and the civic and cultural pride that comes with teaching and showcasing Haitian folkloric dance, music and culture as a precious resource.
The demographics of the students who participated in the 2016 Institute were as follows:
Each weekday, from Monday – Friday, the students participated in the following:
9 – 10am: Yoga
10 – 11:30am: Modern dance
11:30 – 12:30pm: Lunch (provided at no cost to the students)
12:30 – 2pm: Haitian folkloric dance
2 – 4pm: Repertoire
JAE held a Press Conference on July 14, 2016 at Hotel Oloffson attended by representatives of the following: Radio Télé Guinen and Radio Télé Galaxie. Through the duration of the Institute JAE received media coverage from Radio Télé Superstar, Journal Le Nouvelliste – Ticket Magazine, Radio Télé Guinen, Radio Télé Pacific, Radio Télé Galaxie, www.maghaiti.net, CHOKARELLA, Télévision Nationale d’Haïti (TNH, Radio Kiskeya and Radio Télé Galaxie.
The 2016 Jean Appolon Summer Dance Institute was made possible through the support of many generous individual donors from the U.S. and elsewhere, and with support from Hotel Oloffson, the U.S. Embassy in Haiti, FOKAL, JetBlue and Art to Educate Haiti.
The students participated in master classes and lectures with the following special guests: Emerante de Pradines, Mousson Roux and Danielle Jeudi.
Some numerical outcomes of the Institute are as follows: