Britt Stewart has been working hard behind the scenes during the pandemic in Los Angeles. She made her debut as a Dancing with the Stars pro during the show's 29th season, becoming the first Black female pro in the series' history. While shattering glass ceilings for all of the dancers who will follow in her footsteps, Stewart wanted to find a way to give back. It's something she's been thinking about long before her time on the dance competition show.
Stewart had already done some philanthropic work with Nigel Lythgoe and Adam Shankman's charity, American Dance Movement, but she was ready to take it to the next level. That's where Share The Movement comes in, an organization whose mission is "to increase diversity in the professional dance community by providing financial, educational and inspirational support to promising young BIPOC dancers."
The charitable group was founded over a very 2020 internet tool: Zoom. "We have not once met in person, we have never had a board meeting in person, this has only been done online, through text, through calls, through Zooms," Stewart laughed. "But it's fantastic that we have the technology and that we're able to do that."
Watch the full interview, including Britt Stewart's insight on Dancing with the Stars, Tom Bergeron and her recent work in Las Vegas.
Their first order of business is accepting donations and funneling those donations to their summer scholarships to provide full funding for BIPOC dancers this summer. "We've partnered with three summer dance programs — Point Park's summer program, with the University of North Carolina, they have a contemporary and ballet intensive and also a Broadway and commercial lab, and then with Joffrey, their New York jazz and commercial intensive as well,'" she explained. "We have committed to scholarship-ing two kids per program, but then we've also opened it up to anyone within the BIPOC community who wants a scholarship, they can apply on our website. We will be offering a limited amount of scholarships to other programs."
Stewart also promised that Share The Movement has "really exciting plans for [the] full program, which will be launching in 2022." The group recruited other well-known BIPOC commercial dancers to share in the mission, including Dominique Kelley and So You Think You Can Dance's Gaby Diaz and Koko Iwasaki. "That's part of our inspiration in our mission. The dancers will be mentors to the kids that we scholarship," the Dancing with the Stars pro continued. "We will also be offering free community classes to studios for dance history, giving them classes in forms of dance that they might not have access to and making sure that communities that need more access and opportunity will be given free dance classes."
One of the core parts of their curriculum includes prioritizing dance history because it's important for the young dancers to understand the foundation of dance. "There are so many dance styles that are rooted in Black and Brown culture, and we want to be able to share that with everybody," Stewart elaborated. "A lot of people don't know that Foxtrot was founded in Black culture. I'm still learning as well and the very rewarding part of this organization is that we are constantly learning. We are very sensitive to that being an organization that celebrates and promotes diversity. We are also clear that we don't know everything and that this is always a constant process."
The enthusiasm Stewart has for Share The Movement's purpose is felt right through the laptop screen and it will be exciting to follow the progress of the organization as their first scholarship initiative gets underway this summer. "We have so many big dreams, and we're just so excited to do the work, it's already been so rewarding," she summed up. "I feel like we haven't even started yet."
For more information on Share the Movement, visit their website.
Before you go, check out: The World Choreography Awards Bring a Much-Needed Boost to the Los Angeles Dance Industry