Indigenous Pitch Dance Collective

Indigenous Pitch Dance Collective, Inc. is a collective of ethnically diverse Philadelphia- based dance companies whose goal is to create and perform works of artistic excellence that reflect and highlight the diversity of our city and its native, homegrown dance styles. We support emerging choreographers by providing rehearsal space, critical feedback and performance opportunities in which to explore and develop their artistic styles. Through the art of dance, visual and literary arts, music and theatre,  we assist, educate and nurture children affected by natural and/or socio-economic disasters. We fulfill this mission with performances, residencies and workshops throughout the United States and abroad.

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Second Zion

The children that we had at Second Zion for the past two weeks have been such a joy to work with and changed my life, as well as my team members’ lives.  These children are the most outgoing and loving children in the world.  Yes, there may have been some disciplinary issues, but they just want to come to camp so they can be kids and interact with others knowing that they are safe.

Coming to Second Zion three years ago, I wasn’t sure what to expect.  How the campers were going to react, if they were going to like the camp, if they were going to like us; I was petrified.  After the first day of camp, I knew this was going to be a location that I would never let go.  Each day the children came in more and more excited to learn and dance; they were hungry to work with us.  This kind of attitude made us more eager to work with them and give them the best experience that they deserve.

Each year, I count down the days until I get to go back to New Orleans and Second Zion and see the children and how much progress they have made during the year.  Now that this was our third year of camp, I was able to really see and understand the children’s growth from day one, and I couldn’t be more proud.  The love for dance has exploded, self-esteem has increased, the children are more comfortable and trusting, and more respect has been shown.  Our goal is to not just teach these children how to dance, but we teach them how to grow as a person, and I am starting to see the results of our camps.

One event that will always stick out to me was the Wednesday during the second week of camp.  The Canal Street campers wanted me to come back and visit since I have worked with them for seven years.  I was stuck in a predicament because Second Zion didn’t go to smoothly on the Tuesday before.  I decided to stay at Second Zion and we were having a blast.  The campers did a complete 180* turn with their attitudes and behavior.  I decided to stay because I didn’t want to miss out on anything! During lunch, I realized that I was running low on food so Lisa had to bring me some more.

When she got there, I took the food and continued to prepare the next group’s lunch.  Five minutes after Lisa left, I dropped everything and ran out and she was still sitting in the van in the parking lot.  I told her that I wasn’t sure if I made the right decision to not go to Canal and she talked me into going.  As I got into the van and started to pull away, I felt separation anxiety…it was like I was dropping of my child at school for the first time.  I was never expecting to feel sad because I was leaving for the second half of the day.  The whole drive to Canal Street I just talked about how amazing my camp and campers were and how I couldn’t wait to go back the next day.

Once we got to Canal Street, I walked in while the older group was having their drumming class.  Every camper stopped what they were doing and ran over to me to give me a huge hug.  This was the moment when I knew that this is what I was put on this earth to do.  To see the excitement and joy in their eyes gave me a feeling and an emotion that I never felt before.

I already started my countdown….350 days until I get to see the best children in the world!!!!!

Lauren =)

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Improv and games

While the older group of campers aka the Red Group engaged themselves in challenging choreography in a small classroom down the hall (which was beginning to smell a little funky y’all), I was surrounded by the younger campers, the Green Group. Now the Green Group, strong in alliteration and spirit, were circled around criss-cross applesauce waiting for their next activity. So improv and games is pretty self-explanatory. You either improv or play games whether it be duck, duck, dance or musical chairs. You get the gist. But Green Group was in for a treat this day. Mr. Steve was introducing the kids to…..wait for it……wait for it…..”The Infamous Clap”. Despite not knowing the exact definition of infamous, the clap lived on and made quite the first impression on our campers. As the kids encompassed the “stage” with their circle, they would choose two lucky participants to start off this on-the-spot, unscripted humdinger. Once inside the circle, the two kids were given a location and occupation. From there, it was up to the kids to keep the story moving. And kept it moving they did. We had stories from outer space to the ocean floor and back to the swingset of their playground. But the clap, where does the clap come in you ask? Good question. So as the actors are improvising, which is tough enough, they are also at the mercy of their peers. See, if an audience member claps during an actor’s line, that actor must change their sentence completely to take the story in another direction. As a professional dancer and performer myself, I was blown away by the creativity and imagination that flowed from these children, and with such ease. While some of our thespians took some time warming up to their spotlight, they were no less amazing and inspiring then the kids who soaked it up, if not more. Days like these I wonder who is helping who more? Us or the campers.



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NOLA 2013 Recap IPDC

A week in New Orleans with Indigenous Pitch. New church, fresh faces, and some new staff members. This was my second year coming to New Orleans and I knew that this was going to be a great learning experience for the kids, myself and for all the Ipdc staff members. This year I got the chance to really see New Orleans as a city, culture and a community in a way I haven’t seen it before because last year there was really no time to explore the city. It’s amazing to see a city build itself back up from a natural disaster like (Hurricane Katrina) that almost destroyed everything in its path while the people there are in good spirits having fun. Tourists everywhere like myself and being able to see how beautiful NOLA really is. I am also thankful for the staff members that were with me on those days of exploring and it helped me create a bond with them and NOLA that I haven’t had before.

Second Zion is the Church where all the amazing kids come in to learn and have fun with dance, art, journaling and improve-games from our very own IPDC teachers. The kids there are all special in their own way. Many of them are very creative, natural dancers, they all have the ability to grow, share their talents to the world with the right path and instructions. I am very glad that they got the opportunity to learn from us all to possibly make their dreams come true.

Thank You IPDC for letting me educate and to see what we as human beings can learn from each other.

Virgil aka Lil O

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Life Changing Work

I waited to post because I’ve been struggling with my own thoughts on two very intense situations that occurred at my camp these past two weeks. After thinking about it for a long time I’ve come to realize that these stories should be shared because this is why we do the work that we do, to change and impact children’s lives, and it’s important that we share this with the people who support us.

Every year I leave New Orleans with the children’s stories in my mind and hope that we have given them something they can hold on to. I know we provide two weeks of dance, arts, journaling, and fun, but I always try to give them lessons that they can apply for years to come. These moments and memories are the reward in the end.

The first story I would like to share is proof that what we do is life changing. A young girl lost her father the week before camp in a violent murder. When we first started camp she seemed scared, introverted and non-involved. She was drawn to a small group of kids who were testing the boundaries and the rules of camp, normal occurrence every year. She had gotten close to another young girl and they refused to participate and insisted that they didn’t want to be there. Mid week the two of them were sent to me for misbehaving several times in one day, which at that point we call parents and send the children home and they normally do not come back to camp.

I struggled with the decision to send the girls home because I could tell that there was something else going on in their minds. After calling their parents, one of the girls irrupted into tears, breaking down, and hyperventilating. My team and I consoled her and calmed her down enough for her to sit and rest until her parents came. As I finished making lunch with tears in my eyes, because the sadness was contagious, an amazing thing occurred. The two girls started to console each other and share their stories. Two girls who didn’t know each other before camp, very resistant to any positive experience or change, began a relationship by sharing their own hardships. They hugged and cried together building a bond that they will probably never forget. At that point, a team member brought both of them outside and had a life changing heart to heart, filled with tears, prayers, and sharing of stories. It was something that was so obviously needed in both of their lives so that they could experience the camp the way they were meant to, happy.

They both returned the next day with such a different light about them. And every day they grew a stronger and stronger presence of positivism in our camp. It spread through the group that showed resistance and ignited change. These are the powerful and impactful experiences that have been driving IPDC to return to New Orleans now for 7 years.

My second story of a young boy is a true testimony of how we create change in young children’s lives. And although we create change most of the time through our activities at camp, some of the most crucial changes occur through building relationships.

During the first week at camp we became aware that the young boy had a problem with his temper. There were instances at camp that we had to pull him aside to let him cool down before returning to class. He was very aware of this himself and had openly admitted to have been working on this at home.

The second week on the day before the “big show” he had gotten in trouble and asked to leave the room. He exploded, shoving a teacher, throwing a chair and irrupting in anger. At this point, I had to make the second hardest decision for me during these past two weeks. If a child hits a teacher they go home and do not return to camp and are not allowed to attend the show. He was very upset about the decision, but also humiliated by his behavior. I could tell in his eyes that he was disappointed in himself, and it broke my heart that he made this mistake after working so hard for the past two weeks to have self control.

Steve, the documentarian, began to talk with him. They became close and the boy seemed to look up to him. I can’t say exactly what was discussed, because I was not in the conversation, but can testify to how he was impacted by Steve’s advice. Steve explained you may have situations in life that make you angry, you can either choose to through gasoline on it and make the fire worse, or you can choose to use water.

I received a phone call from the boy in the morning. He was in tears and asking to come back to camp, very apologetic. After discussing the situation with the entire team we agreed to allow him to participate in the last day activities as long as he writes a letter of apology to all of us and his friends at camp.

This was his letter,

“Dear Everybody, I’m very sorry for everything I did. I learned that when I have a problem with someone I should tell an adult. I will always remember to use water. I’m sorry. “

So as these stories have immensely impacted my life, I hope that they impact yours a little as well, and give everyone a deeper look into the work IPDC does in New Orleans.


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The children of NOLA need us and you

After a plane ride home back to Philadelphia I have had some time to reflect. The children that IPDC has come to NOLA to serve have made something very clear to me. Most of them are either over matured due to need in their household and might have been stripped of a childhood based on freespirit decisions and fun. And others have regressed into a younger age of acting due to the stresses that surround them. This is just my opinion and though I am not a doctor, it is very clear that the need for these children is extremely evident. I an improvement in our campers in their moods, behavior, comfort level, confidence, and willingness to open up emotionally on a verbal level. Trust is a huge aspect of anybody’s life. Whether it is a bad or good example of trust, the impact is huge on a child. It instills habit on how to trust and who to trust. As a representative of IPDC I know with every ounce of me that these kids trust us without fear and absorb everything we tell them with wide eyes and open hearts. Every child was asking if we’d be back next year. And yes we will. I just wish that they didn’t have to wait so long for us to return. However, maybe a longer stay from us or others to surround their summer could be a great solution.

This cause is a need. It’s not just a great act of kindness. These children go through a lot and need an outlet through arts to express themselves and be able to feel great. Music and dance is perfect for that. I know when I am struggling with anything, I debrief with me, myself, and I behind my drumset. The arts sparks creative and higher order thinking, while aiding in problem solving skills. I feel that these kids will be some of the best problem solvers of the future due to the problems that they have dealt with. They all showed the want to help in their hearts and I hope they all have the best rest of summer before school as possible.


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NOLA/IPDC Fun Facts 2013!

This year was IPDC’s 7th year doing New Orleans arts outreach camps!

We had a total of 27 staff members from all over the country!

Our camp classes included art, hip hop, breakin, ballet, drama, modern, contemporary, jazz, journaling, choreography, improv and games, creative dance, locking, tap, and a performance the last day of camp for friends and family to come see!

We served approximately 500 kids in 2 weeks, at 3 different locations, totaling 6 camps!

Our 3 locations were Canal Street Presbyterian in New Orleans, Second Zion Baptist Church in Marrero, and First Baptist Church in Chalmette.

This year was our seventh year at Canal, our third year at Second Zion, and our first year at First Baptist.

Big thank you to all three churches for your hopsitality, to board members and donors for all your support, to all staff members for all your hard work, and to all campers for attending camp and spending time with us!


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2013 NOLA Staff!

Hey everyone! Here is the complete list of all IPDC NOLA camp staff members! This year, we had 6 camps in 2 weeks, at 3 different locations, totaling about 500 kids! I think it would be good for you to know was making this all happen, so here goes!

Lisa Welsh, Executive Director

Lauren Quattrone, Site Director at Second Zion

Stephanie King, Site Director at First Baptist, Choreography and modern teacher at Second Zion

Kelly Rambo, Site Director at Canal

Kiara Aguayo, dance and journaling teacher at Second Zion

Jake Latchum, music teacher at Second Zion, Canal, and First Baptist

Theresa Ford, ballet and modern teacher at Second Zion

Chelsea Barr, tap teacher at Canal

Olivia Miller, teacher’s assistant at First Baptist and Canal

Morgan Naiberg, teacher’s assistant at Second Zion

Justin Campbell, Drama and Improv teacher at First Baptist and Canal

Trisha Holmes, ballet, creative dance and improv teacher at First Baptist

Samantha Shepherd, tap and art teacher at Second Zion

Virgil Gadson, hip hop, breakin, contemporary and choreography teacher at Second Zion

Eisa Jackson, afro-modern, improv, choreography teacher at Second Zion

Brice ‘Professor Lock’ Johnson, Locking, hip hop, choreography teacher at First Baptist and Second Zion

Steve Believe, hip hop and breakin at Canal and Second Zion

Sabrina Manno, jazz, modern, improv and choreography at First Baptist and Canal

Lor Song, hip hop, breakin and choreography at Canal

Brielle Evangelista, dance teacher at Canal

Kaya Simonson, dance teacher at Canal

Jennifer Ryan, dance teacher at Canal

Kelci Atkins, dance teacher at Canal

Casey Jarvis, dance teacher at Canal

Erica Del Priore, dance teacher at Canal

Michael Rowley, dance teacher at Canal

Steve Smith, Videographer

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Second Zion Recap

This year was my third year going to NOLA with IPDC, and also my third year at Zion. I am always so joyed to talk and get to know these kids. They come from different familes, homes and backgrounds, but they all have the same desire and need to listen and be listened to.

Our team was phenomenal this year and I think the kids thought so too. I wish I was able to directly see the difference we make in the kids’ lives, but just being there for a week means the world to us and them. If I had the option to be with the kids longer, I would do it. If I had the option of being with the kids all summer, I would do it in a heartbeat.

Our last day at Zion, I started feeling very sick. Tiny, one of our older girls, became very worried about me and kept asking, “is everything okay? Are you going to be okay, Miss Steph?” The relationships we build at camp are no joke. We genuinely care about the campers, and they genuinely care for us. These are the kinds of relationships we strive to keep year after year.

Special thank you to all the Zion kids and their parents, all the Zion staff members, and to Ty and Shwanelle for all your support! Yay for another amazing 2 weeks of IPDC camp!


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Letters from Zion (Steph’s post)

Here are some of the letters I got in my mailbox from our kids at Second Zion Baptist Church!

“Dear Stephanie, you were awesome before and way more awesome now. Keep being awesome!”

“I love you, Ms. Stephanie! Love, Ken”

“”Dear Miss Stephanie, I love you! From, Teyonna”

“Dear Stephanie,

I was so excited when my sistser told me you guys were coming back! I was so excited to see you guys. Thank you for everything. I wanna be just like you  when I grow up. Thank you for everything, Steph. I really appreciate it. Love you! Love, Tiny”

“Miss Steph,

We love you guys! From, Chloe/Miss Honey”

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First Baptist Letters (Steph’s post)

Here are some of the letters I got in my mailbox from the kids at First Baptist. I am already missing these kids so much.

“Dear Stephanie,
I really liked it when we did tap. Could we do it again?
Love, Camryn”

“Dear Miss Steph,
I’m glad I learned some new dance moves in your class this week.”
From, Colin B.”

“Dear Ms. Steph,
I like our dance for the green class and all the new moves.”
From, Autumn D.”

Dear Ms. Steph,
Thank you for all the things you have taught me. I really do like the dance you taught me. I think you are really nice and thank you for giving your time up for us to come and do this for us.
From, Leah”

“Miss Steph,
I loved your tap class. Can we do it again?”

“Dear Miss Steph,
I am new to this class, but I am very excited to start.”

“To Professor Lock and Miss Steph,
I am so excited to dance with you guys!
From, George”

“Miss Steph,
Thank you for coming here and dancing with us!
From, Maddy in the red class.”

“Dear Miss Steph,
You are a really good dancer. I wish you were my dance teacher.
From, Tori M.”

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