Zaccho Dance Theatre’s Youth Performing Arts Program (YPAP) is an arts education program developed to enhance classroom learning. The program is designed to help educate the mind and the physical body. YPAP was created to reflect and integrate the highly innovative performance work of the organization’s professional dance company with the life experiences and possibilities of our young neighbors in San Francisco’s Bayview Hunters Point. In our studio and on-site in schools for over 20 years, Zaccho’s arts education program has served 100-450 predominantly low-income, African American and diverse children of color annually by offering free during-the-school-day and extracurricular classes to students 6-18 years old; engaging over 4,500 youth to-date. The youth explore their collective and individual potential in a professional setting through performance training, improvisation, personal research, and contemporary and aerial dance. Each year, Artistic Director Haigood defines a curriculum topic and creates a study guide with input from educators and Zaccho teaching artists. The topics are drawn from issues that are historical, environmental and relevant to our community. A year-end performance event at a professional theater customarily features the hard work of participating youth.
Over the years production topics have included the history of the Voting Rights Act, the Underground Railroad, young heroes—young people making a difference, the history of Negro League Baseball, environmental justice, music of the Civil Rights Movement, dances about nutrition, health and the choices we make and dances that explore identity.
Our program has partnered with many of the schools and youth organizations in Bayview Hunters Point and in Bernal Heights. Among them are Dr. Charles Drew Alternative Elementary School, Dr. George Washington Carver Elementary, Malcolm X Elementary, Muhammad University, the YMCA Bayview Beacon Afterschool Program, the YMCA Urban Services Afterschool Program and Paul Revere Elementary School.