During Black History Month, conversations about Black representation and expression are being highlighted and taking center stage. The Secret Society Dance Company (SSDC), created as part of the non-profit HANAC’s youth programming for middle school and high schoolers living in public housing in Astoria, is a talented group of young BIPOC dancers using the expressive art form of dance to engage in social justice and celebrate Black culture.

The Secret Society Dance Company has taken part in various projects and competitions. The Company won the third-place prize at the 2021 New York City Department of Youth and Community Development’s “Step It Up NYC” competition. Through social campaigns and dance performances, young people (ages 10–21) competed to raise awareness and express their opinion on various social issues, including the #BLM movement.

You can watch SSDC’s “Step It Up NYC” performance of Black Lives Matter-inspired choreography here:

Additionally, the dance group will take their talents beyond New York later this month to compete in the “Battle for the Belt” competition on February 26 in Philadelphia, competing against troupes from Ohio, Massachusetts, Delaware, Illinois, Georgia, Pennsylvania, and Florida.

SSDC is a part of youth programming offered by HANAC, the NYC non-profit organization that is in its 50th year of providing affordable housing, various social programming, and independent living to diverse communities in need across the boroughs.

This article was first published in the Queens Gazette on Feb 24, 2022