Hitting the floor to work on their hip hop moves has given a big boost to some young Calgary dancers. Now, they’re putting their talents to great use to help others.
It’s a cause that hits close to home for dancer Lawrence Atutubo.
“For me in elementary (school), I had a really hard time fitting in.
“They would bully me. It was like, ‘You can’t do this, you can’t do that, you look bad when you do that.’ That was the worst struggle for me.”
It’s a familiar scenario for the Calgary woman who started Dare to Care in 1999, after spending years as a school counsellor.
“Everybody does have a story of bullying,” Lisa Dixon-Wells said. “It may not be that you were bullied, it may not be that you were the bully, but you witnessed it.”
Dixon-Wells’ organization now runs anti-bullying sessions in schools across Canada, with money to be raised at Strut 2019 going to support those programs.
“The hidden culture of aggression among girls and women — it’s some of the worst forms of bullying,” Dixon-Wells said.
“And that certainly is on the rise. And then obviously, the cyber-bullying (is rising as well).”
Getting involved in hip hop dancing made a huge difference for Atutubo.
“The feeling of expression you get… I get that confidence to push me and get me out there.”
Dancing has also helped Ryan Everett with his struggles growing up.
“If I didn’t have this, I wouldn’t have the courage I have now to speak my opinions, speak my voice.”
The dancers from Pulse Studios help others by giving free dance classes in schools, sharing what they’ve learned.
“If you’re being bullied, you shouldn’t let them put you down,” Everett said. “Be yourself, don’t be afraid to do what you believe in. And tell people, ‘Hey, I’m not going to listen to you.'”
The dance team from Pulse will perform as part of Strut 2019 at the Calgary Petroleum Club on Saturday, May 4.
The dancers are glad to have the chance to help others overcome bullying.
“No matter what you say, you’re not in my shoes,” Everett said, “Whatever you want to do, whoever you want to be, you can.”