Dance for orphans | SteamboatToday.com

Dance for orphans

Senior project raises money for Tanzanian orphanage

Allison Plean

Emma Stopher-Griffin got the idea for her high school senior project from the project she did about AIDS in Africa her junior year.

“It just hit my heart when I heard about them,” Stopher-Griffin said. “I did some research and realized that the children got hit harder because they were losing their parents.”

As part of her Steamboat Springs High School senior project, Stopher-Griffin is bringing an African dance troupe from Boulder to Steamboat on Saturday to teach a beginning dance class and give a performance. All proceeds from the event will go to the Lundy Foundation, which operates an orphanage in Idweli, Tanzania, for children who have lost their parents to AIDS.

“It seems like a really good project,” Stopher-Griffin said. “I just think about it and get so sad.”

The Lundy Foundation provides food, health care, education and nurturing to children in the orphanage. Of the 435 children in the village, 46 percent are orphans.

Her mentor for this project is Steamboat resident Millie Beall. “I could not have done anything without her,” Stopher-Griffin said.

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Beall’s son, Roddy, is in the Logo Ligi African dance troupe that is coming to Steamboat. The troupe is dedicated to teaching and celebrating the style and spirit of traditional Ghanaian performance art.

“It’s amazing that an art from West Africa could remind me of Steamboat, but it does. It’s about community, respect, connection and love,” Roddy Beall said. “I felt that growing up in Steamboat, and I feel that in this art form. It’s embedded in the drum beats, in the dance steps and in the hearts of the dancers and drummers — even in the audience.”

Stopher-Griffin has raised $400 and hopes Saturday’s classes and performance will boost that total.

“At first, it was just about raising money, but this project is fun for me,” she said.

Stopher-Griffin has studied African dance for a long time. She also choreographed the African dance routine that was part of last month’s Dance Showcase at the high school.

One of the requirements of the senior project is that students learn something new. Stopher-Griffin said she has learned that “if you put your mind to something, you can do it. And doing something little really does impact someone’s life.”

¤ African Dance classes and performance

¤ Dance class is 4:30 to 6 p.m. Saturday; performance is 7 to 9 p.m. Saturday

¤ Olympian Hall at Howelsen Hill

¤ $10 for the class; $10 for the presentation; $18 for both

¤ 879-1943

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