Philadelphia dance studio helps girls cope with rising gun violence

PHILADELPHIA (PLHIV) – The House of Legends dance group, based in West Philadelphia, is more than movements.

The group works to help people heal from trauma and is currently at the forefront of helping people cope with the rise in gun violence.

“Here I can express my feelings. I can tell my story,” said Makayla Miles, a grade 8 student.

The owner said it’s not a dance school, it’s an experience. Dancers use their grace and poise to express their dreams, as well as anger and fear.

“My dad was delivering packages. He works for FedEx, and then people came over and shot him a few times,” Miles said.

“It doesn’t make me want to go out of the house. And even that scares me because I’ve heard stories all over the news of people being shot in stores, at their homes, at soccer games,” said Kennedy Browning, a 7th grader.

The owner, Shayna Yvonne Rudd, is a former licensed teacher and therapist. She specializes in dance therapy.

“Using your body as a vehicle to release yourself from your greatest fears, your greatest anxiety, your greatest trauma from pain and depression, any psychodynamic problem is a great honor,” Rudd said.

She said each student unfortunately lost a loved one or someone they knew to gun violence.

According to Philadelphia Police, so far in 2021, 363 people have been shot dead. Of these victims, 28 were children under the age of 18, four were black girls.

Legends House now plans to expand its mission by touring schools in Philadelphia. The hope is that other students will learn that there is a positive way to deal with their feelings.

For many young dancers, it is one step at a time and many acts of faith to keep hope alive.

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