Destiny Arts Youth Performance Company


Destiny Arts Youth Performance Company

Destiny Arts Center
970 Grace Avenue
Oakland, CA 94608
Phone: 510.597.1619
Fax: 510.597.1620

Focus: Dance, Martial Arts, Theater

Annual Number Participating: 20–30

Ages: 13–18

Annual Budget: $324,169

Partners: Alameda County Juvenile Justice Center; Alameda County Office of Education; American Conservatory Theater; BANDALOOP; Bay Area Community Resources; Bioneers; National Guild for Community Arts Education; Oakland Unified School District; Our Family Coalition

Funders: Adobe Project 1324 (Creative Catalyst); California Arts Council; City of Oakland Cultural Funding Program; Dance/USA (Engaging Dance Audiences); East Bay Community Foundation; National Endowment for the Arts; Oakland Fund for Children and Youth; Walter & Elise Haas Fund; William & Flora Hewlett Foundation

The Destiny Arts Youth Performance Company (DAYPC) is more than just an after-school escape. It’s a full-on commitment that empowers students from diverse cultural and socioeconomic backgrounds through dance and theater. Youth-driven performances address the provocative social and political issues shaping their lives and communities, such as cyberbullying, global climate change, women’s rights, transgender awareness, and racial profiling. And, as the nine-month curriculum unfolds, the time invested intensifies, creating mature, resilient artists who use their talents to convey their truth.

DAYPC works with local, national, and international collaborators who expose youth to different art forms and cultural expressions of movement. The program provides support for families whose children might not otherwise benefit from such training. Participants in the program interact with and learn from a diverse group of professional artists who become role models, showing the young people that anything is possible.

The season begins with a three-day, 30-hour team-building retreat, where DAYPC’s artistic directors utilize storytelling and bonding activities that promote trust. Ultimately, participants spend six hours a week practicing lindy hop, hip-hop, and house dance routines. Youth also conceive, compose, and refine choreography and theatrical scenes, as weekly rehearsals increase to 15 hours, laying the groundwork for their upcoming performance.

Senior DAYPC participants commit to either an additional three-hour scriptwriting session or a two-hour aerial dance class. Taught by internationally recognized aerialists, youth are eager to incorporate this technique into the Company’s dance arrangement. At the six-month mark, everyone tallies another nine hours of rehearsals weekly, plus a 30-hour tech week, comprising full dress rehearsals that keep students engaged prior to opening night.

The result is a Company-staged multigenre production. DAYPC members are able to share their interpretation of timely social issues with friends, family, and regular theatergoers who may be unfamiliar with urban art forms. Two of the eight shows are especially for students who might be seeing a live performance for the first time. The Company also takes their show on the road throughout the Bay Area and nationally, reaching up to 20,000 spectators yearly.

By season’s end, each DAYPC member will have spent approximately 200 hours collaborating and performing with peers and professional artists. Despite the challenges that many DAYPC youth face at home or socially, 98 percent of its seniors graduate from high school. Of those students, 95 percent attend college, with many pursuing careers in the arts. By offering a stable environment that includes peer and adult support, this rigorous 25-year-old program gives participants the tools needed to create their own destiny.

The Destiny Arts Youth Performance Company empowers young people to share authentic life experiences, to develop significant skills in a range of artistic disciplines, and to create original dramatic dance/theater pieces collaboratively. The demanding but supportive structure of the DAYPC program provides vital awareness, understanding, and essential life skills that continue to serve young people for the rest of their lives.

Josy Miller Arts Education Programs Specialist, California Arts Council