Monica Da Silva | Lumination

6/14/2012 | Amy Tibbals
Marcus MacDonald

Monica Da Silva has danced through life; across countries, even. Born in Utah to Brazilian immigrants who spoke no English, she took her first dance class at a tiny studio on 33rd South at age 8. As with those who love their craft, she's still at it more than 4 decades later. Monica's danced with Ballet West and the top ballet company in Brazil, and she taught ballet for over 30 years in Utah, Arizona, and Brazil. She even had a small role in "Footloose" [the original and only, we say]. These days, she's back in Utah and looking to make a difference in our community. SLC wins again.

Monica's a dancer-turned-choreographer-turned-teacher who wants to inspire kids in our state to explore their creativity. Quite plainly, she says she's concerned with the lack of exposure to the arts in our school system. In response, she's taken on the challenge of creating an artistic outreach program that will give kids the space -- both literally and imaginatively -- to try new things and express themselves through creative means. "With 50% of our kids below the poverty line, and reductions in funding for arts programs in the schools, many of them will never have the chance to learn about dance, theater, music, or any of the other arts," says Monica. "Studies have proven that participation in the arts helps guide children toward a more positive path."

To that end, Monica has started Lumination, a fledgling outreach program that is still seeking like-minded art, music and movement teachers to rally and support the programming. Having successfully taken "Casa Brazil" [an outreach program in her native Brazil] from 33 students to over 500, she's equal to the challenge, and she believes that this community is starving for a similar resource. Lumination holds classes in an unlikely venue -- part of a 50,000 square-foot warehouse space at 600 W 600 S, along side her generous friends at Lumenas [a super cool animation studio...check back for a future story about their work]. Behind this whole unassuming facade is a powerhouse of potential.

The group is showcasing some of the new choreographic and novice dance talent in Salt Lake by performing a burlesque show at the Park Silly Market on Sunday, June 17 at 3:30pm on the main stage. Come for the market and the dancing. Introduce yourself to Monica, sit back and watch, or even better, volunteer to help. Solid reasons, super cause.

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