When a site reaches out to us to host four workshops in a single day with over 250 kids, I gladly accept without hesitation. It has nothing to do with the confidence I have in myself; it stems from the belief I have in our talented team. I have the privilege of working with my mentors, peers, and friends in the dance scene. Our work doesn't happen without them, and it happens at a high level because of them.
The Peace Corner Youth Center is an organization located in Chicago’s Austin neighborhood, providing employment services, skill development, mentoring, tutoring, and a push in the right direction. EDN!C instructors Nadell Jackson & Chris Ayala create an enjoyable environment within the weekly classes.
Monyett Crump may have just pulled off two extremely well-received and quickly beloved workshop events in Chicago, but most in the community just know him as an exuberant teacher and committed student.
Meet Jordan Ordonez!
EDN! Chicago Chapter Director
by Alyssa Leahy
Jordan Ordonez is a dancer and leader in the dance community who continuously aims to learn more in his experiences to share with his works and community. He has been a part of the EDN! team for four years now; one year as Assistant Director and the last three years as Chapter Director.
Within his time with EDN!, Jordan has been able to work with the Chicago team in rebuilding program models and implementing new leadership structures into the community. He is working with the EDN! branches to help these models grow and expand youth empowerment and community involvement. Having different branches around the country, EDN! is able to have so many different teachers and backgrounds to work with; which is a huge interest for Jordan.
Jordan continues to learn and practice different styles while in Chicago and traveling, such as house and hip hop, and brings his experiences back to teach others what he learns. Outside of EDN! and dance, Jordan is working on his pharmacist career and finding his way to help and serve the underserved; sharing his knowledge with those who need it.
Within both Jordan’s dance life and personal life, he is aiming towards building more community involvement and being a leader while learning from his surroundings in the process. Jordan says, “The mission of EDN! is truly a passion of community building and youth empowerment, both on a micro scale and a macro scale.” He is happy to dance and work with people of the past and new connections to help get to the mission of our future!
by Jordan Ordonez
At this point in my life, I have grown to strongly value four things in life: gratitude, understanding, happiness, and authenticity. This list is by no means complete, but during my twenty-six years, I have adopted these core values into my identity. Today, I would like to talk about gratitude.
I wholeheartedly believe that the best way to express gratitude is, not by simply saying, “thank you”, but by the act of “paying it forward”. Dance has been a part of my life for more than ten years and it has given me so much - passion, love, life-long friendships, and so much more. Dance makes me happy, it has become a therapeutic tool, and it gives me community.
I have been with Everybody Dance Now! for four years and have put in countless hours of work. This is my way of paying it forward and showing my gratitude to dance and my dance community. For the new year, I call on all of my friends, loved ones, and acquaintances to take stock of your life, find the part that has given you joy, and show your gratitude by paying it forward. Use your art, sports, or your profession to find a way to give back. That might be with your time, your money, or your support. Exchange and spread the knowledge that you have with others in your community. Volunteer your time, or donate a few dollars. Anything counts. It all matters.
- Jordan Ordonez
Kind disclaimer: I have not yet moved to India. My husband and I will move here October 2018 to October 2019 for his doctorate work on Tibetan Buddhism, as there is a well-known Tibetan University here amongst a few already established Buddhist holy sites and temples. We are here this Winter to figure out how we will live here for a year.
Finally arriving after twenty-two hours of travel, Jed and I followed our cab driver out to the parking lot with our two backpacks each in tow. We plopped in the run-down car and established our destination as Sarnath, a forty-five minute drive from Varanasi. The driver fiddled with the radio until he landed on a song that suited his mood for the drive. I do the same thing back home in the States.
The music reflected and enhanced all that we witnessed and all of the visceral, direct experiences that India emanates: the sway of cows as they walked across the middle of the road, the men laying bricks in mud to complete half-built homes, the barefoot children laughing as they flew their homemade kites in the brisk wind, the teenagers walking home from school in uniform with scarves across their mouth protecting their lungs, the permeating smell of burning coal and car exhaust, the dust flying as our driver quickly weaved and honked by every moving object, and the mothers rocking their young ones on the back of motorcycles cautiously moving along the hectic road. I don’t see these same things back home in the States.
We arrived at our guest house and were greeted in the small garden entrance by a woman wearing a beautifully colored Sari. With gratitude for this well-maintained facility, we thanked the host for her hospitality in showing us to our room. Although lacking the appliances of an average rental back home, and regulating extra pay per day for heated water and a space heater, the room was a palace in comparison to what most families have in this town. Culture shock is a real thing ya'll, and one needs to be given the space necessary to integrate a very different way of living. The shock reminded me of when I had moved from small town Missouri to New York City when I was nineteen... but multiplied times one hundred.
During our first couple days, my husband and I attended a conference relating religious approaches to “mind” and science. His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama attended and spoke at the first seminar, and what an incredible gift his words were. He spoke on the strength of global peace brought about through ongoing discussion. The more we can recognize our boundaries are only in place due to lack of communication about our differences in thought, the more we can cultivate opportunities for dialogue, eventually breaking down boundaries and bringing peace. He said that war was an outdated mental construct, and that we as a global consciousness can prevent war through conversation. We will realize that our strength exists in our differences.
I am beyond grateful for the flexibility that my work allows due to the open minds and creative beings that Everybody Dance Now! maintains. My colleagues understand that family takes priority, and have been supportive of my request to remain working remotely during the next year. Honesty and transparency feels nice: This is where I am at, this is what I need, how can we make it work. Community and team support feels even better: We got your back, let’s work together to find a way to make it work.
This is where we must be headed as a global consciousness: create work mindsets and opportunities that serves the employee as much as it serves the company as much as it serves the community as much as it serves our greater existence.
(Video taken on our only stretch of straight/paved driving)
Being back in Houston was exciting. I went to the weekly Youth Advocates session at the St Luke’s United Methodist. It was refreshing to see how the church opened the space each week to make a positive environment for the freestyle dance community. Even though I wasn't dressed to dance (I had just come from my last set of meetings), the music was too good not to get in a few rounds.
Though we might feel overwhelmed at times, Giving Tuesday reminds us that we have a story to tell and a platform to magnify it. And it's not just the story of our work that we share. We want to promote a mindset of giving that goes beyond today or even this holiday season. And we are excited to be a part of a bigger picture that shows everyone the difference they can make.
We are expanding our services to youth impacted by Harvey. And with it comes a lot of back-and-forth discussion on priorities and possibilities. I’m learning that nonprofits often find themselves in this same position — having a desire and willingness to increase impact but not knowing if the growth is feasible.