SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - Santa Barbara Dance Arts is organizing the city's first ever youth driven Inclusion and Diversity Coalition.
According to the studio's founder Alana Tillim, inclusion includes an emphasis on racial justice, mental health, and body positivity.
Dancers like Alana Tillim understand what it's like to feel like an outsider.
“My family couldn't afford it. And you know, it was a teacher that saw me that made me feel noticed that said, ‘Hey, we can work this out’,” said Tillim.
Now Alana is working towards making dance accessible and inclusive.
She said, “The kids are just so excited because they're sharing their firsthand experiences, their own experiences being marginalized.”
Executive Director of the Arts Mentorship Program René García Hernández said, “It's important because everyone deserves a place to belong. And if we grant that access for people to just be themselves, you know, and also get to see the world of others, that's how we create that unity.”
Some of the measures put in place include dancers speaking their language of preference, choosing their own hairstyle, and finding dance clothing that matches their skin tone.
The goal is to provide a safe and healthy space for emerging artists to grow and thrive.