Student Stories

More than 20 years ago, Dance Theatre Etcetera’s work in the Red Hook, Brooklyn community began. Since then, DTE has become an arts organization that equips youth with the tools to become changemakers in their own lives, schools, and communities.

Studies show that, when given arts instruction, students from low-income communities have a higher probability of attending college and finding gainful employment.

The small schools we partner with serve students from these communities who face an array of challenges. Many of the schools have limited resources for top-notch arts education programs, and their surrounding neighborhoods struggle to provide afterschool opportunities for young adults. Here’s where DTE comes in.

DTE provides arts classes and employment opportunities that transform the lives of youth.

Here are some of their stories.


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Alanis, DTE Media Student

Alanis is a senior at the Secondary School for Journalism. She’s a talented media maker and future journalist, who attended both our Digital Boot Camp and In Transition: Media programs.

In Digital Boot Camp, we had a 2-minute short film, and it was the first thing I ever directed and edited. I saw it through from start to finish and it was something I felt proud of. We talked a lot about racial issues, like police brutality, and when you would bring up those issues you would see how people were emotionally invested. It became more than just a documentary—we saw that we were helping other people by giving them that platform to tell their stories.

Alanis was recently awarded a Brooklyn Youth Fellowship–through which she helps the Brooklyn Community Foundation decide which youth initiatives to invest in–and she aspires to study media and communications in college.

“I want to fix a lot of the social issues that I see. I want to do that in a creative and artistic way and reach a mass amount of people. I’ve been able to not feel so afraid to share my opinions through the arts. I want to help other people feel like they have a say in changing things, too.”


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Louric, DTE Media Student

Louric’s passion for film was ignited in our summer Digital Boot Camp.

DTE was the first internship where I finally got to be in the element that I wanted to be. When I went to the orientation, I was happy, and it was one of the most exciting experiences to be surrounded by people who love film just as much as I do and create projects that are going to share a message and help influence the community,” Louric said.

Louric‘s mother, a Caribbean immigrant, finished high school late and was unable to attend college. That made it even more important for him and his siblings to succeed. He takes his role as a future leader seriously, recruiting classmates who took on key production roles in DBC.

Being in the program gave them a voice and freedom of expression that they didn’t know they had. Now they’re bringing more students into the program and expanding greater than I ever thought we could.”


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Lorenzo, DTE Poetry Student

Poet Lorenzo Cooper, aka rapper Lyrical L, grew up in Crown Heights and bounced around schools before landing at East Brooklyn Community High School, where he took DTE’s poetry class with teaching artist Jive Poetic.

“What I learned from Jive was determination,” he said. “The DTE platform itself is amazing. It gives upcoming artists and kids with talent exposure and the right energy, so they can continue to progress forward—whether it’s performing, poetry, or film. I learned the art of networking with other artists, poets, and performers.”

Lorenzo is currently pursuing a career as a rapper on his own underground record label. “As an artist, I have to stay consistent and spread the right messages because a lot of the younger generation is paying attention to me and we need to have a leader in our age bracket that can be a positive role model for everybody to succeed.

Listen to Lorenzo perform “Truly Blessed.”


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Kyra, DTE Media Student

Kyra went to South Brooklyn Community High School where she attended a DTE after-school media program.

When I started at SBCHS, I lived in Brownsville on a block that there’s all this violence. The more stuff I did, the less I was around it, which I was happy about. DTE’s In Transition: Media program kept me busy, so that I didn’t go home and get into trouble.

Due to a loss of eyesight, her mother never had the chance to go to college and Kyra started taking care of her at the tender age of 8. While reading legal books to her, Kyra grew inspired to pursue law.

Through internships, like In Transition: Media, Kyra stayed on track in high school and graduated on time. She now majors in criminal justice at Queensborough Community College with hopes of becoming an attorney. “Being at DTE helped me broaden my horizons. I learned to be patient and more open-minded about certain subjects. The people at DTE care about what’s going on with you, they care about helping you move forward.”


DTE has developed innovative arts education programs, supported emerging artists, promoted collaborations between professional artists and communities, and created pathways to employment. Your support helps us provide educational interventions for hundreds of  youth at-risk for dropping out of high school, living in low-income neighborhoods with limited access to recreational and employment opportunities.

To make a tax-deductible donation, visit: www.dtetc.org/donate. Show your support by sharing hashtags #DTE and #GiveArt. Let’s continue building a more just and joyful world through the arts!