Dance project raises awareness on abuse

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Photo by Larry Hannelin / Photo courtesy of Esperanza Dance Project 2012

Latricia George, a founding member of the Esperanza Dance Project, dances in the group's piece titled, "To Cry For You." EDP will perform tonight at the Pima Community College West Campus.

The stigma, shame and secrecy revolving around childhood sexual abuse are very real and present in today’s society. About four years ago, Beth Braun started the Esperanza Dance Project in hopes of eradicating these patterns of sexual abuse and violence.

EDP is a dance company that performs mainly at high schools in order to start conversations about childhood abuse, to “begin to end the silence, and let survivors know that they are not alone and there is hope for healing,” Braun said.

During the beginning of the project’s season in June, it reached out to educational institutions and those who work in them, including Genesis Mora Delhoyo, president of the Pima Community College Social Services Student Organization. After watching the performance, she reached out to EDP and decided to sponsor a performance tonight at the Pima Community College West Campus.

The dancers in EDP generally range from high school to graduate students, but they all have one thing in common: They have a passion for what they do.

Allegra Amend, a UA junior studying film and television and finance and a dancer in EDP for the past three years, said she believes EDP’s message should reach everyone. The project is a huge part of Amend’s life, because “not only am I dancing,” she said, “but I’m volunteering for a greater cause.”

Generally, EDP performs at high schools, but for its upcoming performance, it is preparing to raise awareness at PCC West Campus. Performing for an older age group excites Amend, because she said she thinks older students will vocalize their opinions more and, therefore, will continue to raise awareness for the company’s mission.

Ariana Manson, a biochemistry sophomore, is a new member of EDP.

“[I’m] learning the dances and the meanings and emotions behind them, and learning how to talk about sexual abuse to friends and family, and even strangers,” Manson said. Manson said she believes the performance can really apply to everyone, because childhood sexual abuse affects everyone, whether they know it does or not.

“It’s so great to be able to use that expression and artistic power to create a message so powerful and spread hope and light and beauty throughout the community,” Manson said.The performance, “SSSO Presents: Esperanza Dance Project,” will be held at 5 p.m. at the PCC West Campus Proscenium Theatre. The show is free and open to the public.

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