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Students at two Philly schools learn dance moves from famed choreographer Debbie Allen

Darryl Murphy

This article was originally published in The Notebook. In August 2020, The Notebook became Chalkbeat Philadelphia.

Emmy and Golden Globe Award winning actress and choreographer Debbie Allen taught a 90-minute class Tuesday for dance students at the Philadelphia High School for the Creative and Performing Arts, and String Theory Charter School’s Vine Street Campus.

The classes are part of the Mann Center for Performing Arts and Community Engagement Program’s 2017 Artist-N-Residency program, where students from select performing arts schools in the region receive a master class from an well-established artist.

The award-winning actress, director and choreographer coached students through several contemporary African dance routines.

Lauren Kerr, a sophomore at CAPA, said it was a good experience that took her out of her comfort zone.

“We don’t get to take classes of that kind of style all the time. A lot of time it’s a lean to a certain style of modern or jazz, and we only take ballet once a week. So when we get to do something different it’s really nice.”

Before leaving the class, Allen took several selfies with the excited students, and encouraged the students to stay creative.

“When you’re working with young people there is nothing better than passing a little bit of that baton giving them some of your experience and knowledge,” said Allen, a three-time Emmy award winner.

“And letting them express their power. This is a wonderful school and very well-trained students, and I congratulate the leadership.”

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