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Dance Haiti!


Dance Haiti!

Dance Haiti!

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. Jean Appolon Expressions is presently seeking to expand the Summer Institute into a year-round program.

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 develops a positive self and cultural identity
  • 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

typical daily schedule

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

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Dance Haiti! Report Backs

Dance Haiti! Report Backs

Dance Haiti!

The magic that happens at Dance Haiti! is too good to keep to ourselves. Here's what happened this year. 

2016 Report Back

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:

  • 60 students enrolled
  • Ages ranged from 11 – 28
  • Average student age was 18
  • 51 girls and 9 boys participated
  • 35% had participated in the Institute in a prior year(s)
  • 56 students received completion certificates

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,, 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:

  • 120 free hours of high quality yoga and dance instruction were provided
  • 1400 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
  • 200 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

previous reports

Summer 2015 Report Back

Summer 2014 Report Back

Summer 2013 Report Back

Summer 2012 Report Back