Dancing through difficulty

Liberty Express is a dance, film and cultural exchange project for children living in poverty.

The cycle of poverty is a difficult one to escape and often continues unless there is external intervention. For the poverty-stricken children living in New Orleans, Rio, Mumbai and London, Liberty Express brings art and culture to their communities to allow them an opportunity to be more eloquent and confident in expressing themselves through dance.

The programme runs a series of dance and film shoots for the children to express themselves freely and confidently despite their circumstances. The children, who are thousands of kilometres apart, share the films of each other dancing in their homes and communities. They also participate in live online sessions where they learn about each other’s backgrounds, see the differences in their worlds, but also the great similarities.

Caetano Fernandes dancing with his siblings in their back yard, Mesquita, Chatuba, Rio de Janeiro, via Liberty Express Kickstarter page

In collaboration with local organisations, the project runs six dance workshops in each city. The programme ensures that once they’ve left, the local organisations continue to run the dance workshops for the children. Poverty affects children’s mental, emotional and behavioural health, which this programme can help.

“We explore various approaches to improvisation, which encourages the children to discover ways of moving that are very personal and expressive. Throughout the process they develop a sense of curiosity and value in expressing themselves,” says Hattie Worboys, the program’s artistic director, on their Kickstarter page.

film shoot in Dharavi, Mumbai, via Liberty Express Kickstarter page

The aim of their Kickstarter page is to help continue the programme in the above-mentioned cities, and to extend it to Lesvos, Greece, where they will work with young refugees who have faced persecution and extreme hardship in their journey to Europe. Funding is also needed to pay dance instructors, film crew, travel costs, film equipment, and on-going dance classes for the children once the team has left.

The material collected throughout the programme will be used to create a film about the children’s progress and the journey of the project, from start to finish.