“Embody your bodies,” says Michál, “your mana is powerful!” The founder of Lavaroots Performing Arts, she teaches West African dance, salsa, hip hop, and creative movement. “Kids are creators, their voices matter. It’s healing work, expressing who you truly are.”
As a teacher, choreographer, producer, and contributor to community events for 15 years, Michál’s dedication to cultural arts and expression is infectious. “Don’t make your body move,” she says, “ALLOW it to move. Allow movement to come up through your body!”
“Passion is key. Teaching is about cultivating a person’s gifts, encouraging confidence, listening, sharing joy, being authentic, and treating youth as the intelligent, capable beings that they are. Dance and music are powerful tools for fostering a healthy sense of self, team building, and often healing, as well as promoting left and right brain coordination.”
How do you produce a vibrant learning environment?
“Number one: create a safe space. I’ve had the luxury of working with the same kids over several years, they know me really well, so we get to go deep. Safety is consistent, and solid. You can count on me to be Aloha and hear you. Ideas are always welcome.”
How do you foster youth leadership?
“There’s a hierarchy in the summer arts program: students can become assistants, then paid staff. The master teachers mentor the staff and the tiers of assistants. It’s an adaptable, flexible system, with room for creativity, which grew organically. Everyone brings their gifts to share, so there’s freedom within the structure, which holds it from the bottom, instead of top-down. They know I’m here to support and give them the foundation to expand, to bring out their essence, their gifts. It’s symbiotica, the energy of cooperation, instead of competition. We focus on solutions instead of lack. What can we create? Energy flows where your attention goes.”
What is an example of a good day?
“Kids getting ignited, getting the moves down, realizing they are worthy and valued. Watching them share and expand and uplift so they walk in their gifts, and work in harmony, together on this planet. Dance is an amazing vehicle for this.”