Art and Change Grant
Neighborhood: South Philadelphia
Change Partner: Dr. Carol Simmons
Vena will travel to Senegal, West Africa to study the healing dance and music of various groups such as the Maninka and Djola peoples. She was inspired to return to Senegal, due to requests by dance therapists and others for specific programs that utilize African dance as a healing tool for young African American women and teenage mothers who have been abused. Having traveled to Senegal before, she is familiar with the language, customs, and art forms, enabling her to study with medicine women and spiritual leaders to better understand the relationship between healing and these art forms. Once she returns to Philadelphia, she will create a dance therapy-centered program for young African American women. This project hopes to offer an alternative concept of healing through dance that is based in African traditions.
Check out Vena's collaborative performance with Trapeta Mayson at the 2008 Leeway Cabaret.
Photo: Rachelle Lee Smith