In the mid-1980s, dancers Dana Lupton and Leah Mann started working with at-risk children in Atlanta, with the lofty ambition of trying to save them. But Lupton soon concluded, "These kids are just saying things that they know we want to hear, because we were, you know, white college students. ... So I stayed on the streets one night, and they just naturally started moving and doing street dancing. I started moving with them, and it was just a lot of fun. ... They said, 'Who taught you that?' And I told them, 'You did.' That's when I had the revelation. ... It's doing things with people, not for them." So the idea for Moving in the Spirit was born.
Founded in 1986 by Lupton and Mann, MITS helps at-risk Atlanta youth develop leadership and life skills through dance training and performance. The company takes a show on a 17-day tour every summer, traveling across the country and around the world.
What You Can Do
MITS' biggest need is for mentors who can make a long-term commitment to a child in the program. No dance experience is required. Male mentors are in particularly short supply. They also need someone computer savvy to organize their costume shop and make the inventory available online. Their garden needs some TLC from an experienced volunteer. And of course volunteers with skills in dance, photography, lighting design and other theater tech are always welcome. MITS has a wish list for in-kind donations on their website. www.mitsdance.org.