Opinion

Day of the Locust

Jimmy Locust, by all accounts and a quick search of the Internet, is a well-known guy in the dance world who even coined his dance style. The stars he has worked with are legends and households names, but little of that will probably matter today and on Saturday when he is scheduled to make stops at the YMCA and Breed Middle School.

Locust is going to lead intermediate-level dance classes and introduce participating young men to Harmony Nation, his self confidence-building, anti-bullying, anti-violence initiative. The YMCA and Lynn public schools are partners in bringing Locust and Harmony Nation to the city and Salem State University’s campaign to put urban males on a college track is another partner in the collaborative.

Any artist who takes the time and makes the effort to build young lives deserves credit and praise. Locust is using words, but more importantly, action to show young people how to reject emotions and isolation that lead some kids to suicide.

By showing and telling kids how to get up and move to express themselves and feel confident in their bodies, he is taking a giant leap forward in efforts to banish lack of confidence and isolation. Movies and theater for decades have built stories on the theme of kids overcoming adult restrictions and their own differences to express themselves and build new relationships. Locust understands dance has the power to energize people and free them from restrictive self conceptions about appearance, ability and talent.

There is probably no more free source of expression than dance. Dancers don’t need a stage or an audience to perform: They turn the world around them into the stage and audience. There is no expense associated with dance, just the time and effort invested.

By bringing his talent and his ideas to the YMCA and Breed, Locust is showing that he understands the freedom that defines dance. He is turning gymnasiums today and tomorrow into dance studios and he is turning youth with rudimentary dance skills into performers.

“Any time we can participate in a program that promotes caring helps with bullying before it starts. Jimmy’s approach speaks directly to our youth in a very authentic way,” said YMCA Community Relations Director Audrey Jimenez.

Those are powerful words from a woman who talks on a daily basis with kids who have experienced bullying. If there is on quality that defines the YMCA, it is a unifying sense of charity. The YMCA’s mission is bringing good will into the lives of others so that the giver and receiver benefit from positive interaction.

Locust’s Harmony Nation philosophy already defines the YMCA and it echoes in many ways the philosophies and values of Lynn’s public schools. The kids who learn Locust’s dance moves today and tomorrow might not become performers or master choreographers, but they find that those unseen weights on their young shoulders are lifted and cast off.

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