In June 2019, Trade Winds Ensemble partnered with the Ruth Ellis Center (a short and long-term residential safe space providing support services for homeless and at-risk LGBTQ youth) to provide workshops centered around creativity, wellness, and self-expression. Upon meeting the youth at Ruth Ellis, it became apparent that dance was a key element in how they expressed themselves. Our classes invited students to use interpretive dance as a compositional technique in both soundpainting and graphic notation activities. In addition, we gave free, family-friendly interactive concerts at local libraries in the Detroit area. Beyond our work in Detroit, TWE was able to share space together (a rare opportunity for us) to plan our 2020 project and work towards our long-term goals.

Why Ruth Ellis Center?

When researching organizations in the Detroit metro area, we were so inspired by Ruth Ellis Center's mission. REC’s diverse SOGIE (Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity or Expression) youth often attend schools which may not understand the unique needs and development of social skills associated with their background and experience. The amazing volunteer team at REC is committed to immersing their children and youth in workshops and activities which focus on skills that aren’t traditionally taught in school. Trade Winds will use music, dance, and other non-traditional methods to teach REC’s residents, largely diverse SOGIE foster youth, focusing on problem solving, future planning, breaking down big tasks into small steps, and instilling confidence. 

Trade Winds Ensemble acknowledges that working with sensitive populations requires an ever-evolving mindset that centers the experiences and knowledge of the diverse community that REC serves. Thus, Ruth Ellis Center’s expert staff will be conducting a training session for our teachers to prepare us for working with diverse SOGIE youth, educate us on uses of inclusive and affirming language, and to help us become more familiar with the ways REC makes a difference.

Learn More about Ruth Ellis’s Legacy