Groove With Me
In the fall of 1996, Abigail Rosin, a twenty-three-year-old Brown University graduate, carried a bag of tap shoes and a radio to New York City’s lower east side to offer free dance classes to underprivileged girls. Two students showed up that day. But Abigail persevered, believing that dance could be a source of joy and community—and break the cycle of underachievement faced by so many inner-city girls. Today Abby’s Groove With Me dance program provides 21 classes a week to 220 students.
Groove With Me is an award-winning Manhattan-based nonprofit organization providing free dance classes for underprivileged girls. Most participants are Latinas and African Americans ages four to eighteen, and most live in single-mother households in New York City’s lowest income neighborhoods. Groove With Me provides role models, group belonging and a venue for leadership. Classes in hip hop, tap, ballet, jazz, funk, choreography and African dance instill pride in the girls’ heritage while teaching discipline, focus and teamwork.
At a time when funding for programs has been slashed drastically, Groove With Me plays a critical role in the lives of inner-city girls. Through the medium of dance, Groove With Me teaches self-respect and self-worth, helping deter at-risk girls from prostitution, gang involvement, substance abuse, teen pregnancy and domestic violence. Dance builds self-esteem in the girls as they learn how to achieve their goals.
In January 2001, after five years scattered around the city in borrowed spaces like high school cafeterias, Groove With Me opened its own studio in Spanish Harlem—thanks to the passionate commitment of staff and volunteers, and the generous donations of enthusiastic supporters. Permanent space is crucial to the students’ sense of security and continuity. For many, the studio is a second home. The Groove With Me environment provides a safe place for girls, an alternative to unsupervised homes or negative influences on the street.