From late June to early August, sounds of children laughing and rhythmic movement can be heard from the field house at Hamilton Park in Chicago’s Englewood neighborhood. Since June 2016, Forward Momentum Chicago (FMC) has hosted this six-week Summer Dance Camp for children ages 5-14 in one of Chicago’s most underserved neighborhoods. The objective of FMC Summer Dance Camp is to give students with an interest in dance an opportunity to participate in a high-level dance program centered on formalized training in Ballet, Modern, Latin, African, and Hip-Hop. In addition to instruction in dance, the curriculum also incorporates journaling, education in health and fitness, and character development. FMC Summer Dance Camp is one of only a few programs in the area that provides comprehensive dance training — which comes with numerous health, social, and academic benefits — at a cost that is affordable for families in a community that has very few resources for affordable arts programs for children.
Students in FMC Summer Dance Camp also experience weekly field trips to some of Chicago’s top cultural attractions. These field trips allow the students to explore areas of the city beyond their neighborhood. Student favorites have included the Shedd Aquarium, Field Museum, Millennium Park, and boat cruises that included a sightseeing tour of the city with Shoreline Sightseeing and architect tour with Mercury Cruises. Children have the opportunity to perform throughout the city including Allstate’s Fresh Festival at Navy Pier. The 2018 Summer Dance Camp Final Showcase featuring all 150 dancers was held at the Reva and David Logan Center with over 400 audience members in attendance.
Demand for a spot in FMC’s Summer Dance Camp has been so strong that it has grown from 65 to 150 campers, including an expansion to a second location at Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Elementary School (MLK). With the second location at MLK Elementary School, Summer Dance Camp has grown from a staff of six to 10 along with 10 additional interns from After School Matters. In summer 2019, FMC will once again host two summer camps on the South Side, one at Hamilton Park and one at MLK Elementary. In summer of 2019, a third location will be added at the Carl Von Linne Elementary School in Chicago’s Avondale neighborhood.
With 20 years of teaching experience and as a former professional dancer with Joffrey Ballet and Dance Theatre of Harlem, Pierre Lockett, founder and executive director of Forward Momentum Chicago, is a strong advocate in bringing high-level dance education to children in areas of the city with limited arts access. He believes “the arts develop character, confidence, and social skills, which are beneficial life skills.”
Since 2014, Pierre and his team of teaching artists with Forward Momentum Chicago have taught over 6,000 children in 85 Chicago public schools and four community centers located in Chicago’s south and west sides. FMC’s mission is to inspire possibilities through dance education programs that strengthen schools and communities with limited arts access. FMC strives to be a leader in dance education by utilizing the art form of movement as a catalyst to help students build life skills for individual success.
Forward Momentum Chicago will hold its fourth annual Relevé Soirée on June 11, 2019, at Joffrey Tower. Relevé Soirée is the primary fundraising event supporting Forward Momentum Chicago. Proceeds from Relevé Soirée will support the programs of Forward Momentum Chicago, including its six-week Summer Dance Camps, located in Chicago’s Englewood and Avondale neighborhoods.
If you are interested in sponsoring a camper, donating to our auction, or purchasing tickets, please contact Kathy Smith at 312-404-8876 or email [email protected].