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Lexington woman aids Haiti with dance

Posted by Leslie Anderson  June 21, 2010 08:54 AM

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Lexington resident Nailah Randall-Bellinger, assistant professor of dance at Dean College in Franklin, said she went numb after learning of the 7.0 magnitude earthquake that struck Port-au-Prince, Haiti, on Jan. 12.

Although she considered taking a year off from the dance institute which she helps run in Haiti every summer, she is now more determined than ever to empower survivors through dance, Randall-Bellinger said.

For the fourth year, she will join Jean Appolon of New York in traveling to Haiti to teach a free, three-week dance workshop next month focusing on body conditioning and folk and traditional modern dance. While Randall-Bellinger said she fears learning the fate of her students and staff members, she finds comfort in the resiliency of the people who so impressed her during her first trip to Haiti in 2005.

‘‘I’ve traveled all over the world, but something about the culture, national pride, and spirituality in Haiti really speaks to my spirit,’’ Randall-Bellinger said. Ultimately, she said, she hopes to expand the program so that American students can travel to Haiti to dance, explore the country, and take classes in the country’s history, language, and literature.

To raise money for the Janbe Institute, the Boston-based nonprofit cultural arts organization that Randall-Bellinger and Appolon established in 2006 to fund the Haiti dance program, they will host an intensive dance workshop next Sunday from 2 to 4 p.m. at the Roxbury Center for the Arts in Hibernian Hall, 184 Dudley St. in Roxbury.

‘‘We understand the importance of the medicine and food that is being given to Haiti, but the soul also needs to be fed,’’ said Randall-Bellinger, noting that one of last year’s students walked three hours each way in 100-degree heat to take part in the workshop, without once arriving late. ‘‘Our students who survived this disaster need us. They need to know we’re still thinking about them.’’

The cost of the dance workshop is $15. For more information, e-mail nbellinger@janbe.org or go to www.janbe.org.

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