With crime and violence on the city’s streets becoming a growing concern, parents are seeking safer ways for their children to enjoy the hot summer days to come.
One group of West Philadelphia residents attempted to meet this need by forming a dance group for their young girls.
The 5500 block of Delancey Street held its family fun day to celebrate the end of the school year. The youth were treated to water ice and pretzels and a special performance by the Delancey Street Divas as proud parents and residents looked on.
“We just wanted to give the kids, some of the young girls, something else to do. Something to look forward to and (to) develop their skills,” said the group’s manager Dale Williams. “I think it’s important to give the girls something to do, to keep them engaged and active.”
Williams said the Divas consist of their own captains and co-captains while she simply supervises the group.
“I just oversee the young ladies,” he said. “They are coming up with their own ideas, their own dances and their own concept of what they would like to do.”
The Divas are in the process of planning a fashion show, according to Williams.
Naidnae Starnes, 12, is captain of the Delancey Street Divas.
“The dances that we do are Hip-hop and I think that a lot of us have a lot of rhythm and know how to do all of the dances,” said Starnes, who said she once attended dance school.
Starnes said its pressure to learn the dance routines but the girls work together as a team and get along.
“I want our group to be professional and I would like everyone to know about the Divas so we can perform at different places,” said Starnes, who said she would like the group to travel around the world.
Unity is a common concern of the group’s members since dance requires the girls to move as one.
India West, 13, is secretary of the Divas and noted the group has had its ups and downs since its founding nearly a year ago.
“The ups are when everybody can just get along and we can do the dance with no problem and the downs are when we have to work really hard to get everyone to know the dances really well,” she said.
According to West, there are eight members of the Divas.
“At the beginning… it was really hard for the little kids to catch up with what the big kids were doing but now, the little kids can do what the big kids can do. We are all one big group now,” West said.
Ayanna Price, 10, the group’s co-captain, said she enjoys dancing in front of her friends and family.
“Instead of running up and down the street, you get to do something and it takes time to practice,” she said. “And its good that we are just working on one thing and not losing all of our intelligence just running up and down the street.”