Dance Educator Beth Braun-Miscione Uses the Arts As A Springboard for Social Change
For the past 11-years, Beth Braun-Miscione has directed the dance program at University High School in Tucson, Arizona. She also founded a powerful public health project, the Esperanza Dance Project, to support teen victims of family-based sexual violence. As one of our repeat WorldStrides travelers (including the Orange Bowl, Indy 500, and Holiday Bowl!), Braun-Miscione is a part of the WorldStrides family and we applaud her boundless enthusiasm and dedication. She’s recently been named as one of 2016’s Disruptive Women to Watch in Health Care. Read our Q&A with Beth, and then join us in giving a big “hats off” to this remarkable teacher!
WorldStrides: In 2011, you formed the Esperanza Dance Project in Tucson, Arizona. Can you tell us about the mission of the Esperanza Dance project?
Beth Braun-Miscione: The Esperanza Dance Project is a community-based collaboration that uses a multimedia dance performance to spread awareness and education about childhood sexual violence. We want to replace this destructive stigma with a message of hope and empowerment. I started EDP when I learned about a harrowing experience of sexual abuse within my own immediate family. Processing this experience made me begin to see how this issue impacts our youth, and I felt a pressing need to break the silence and educate my community about sexual violence.
Since I express myself best through dance and choreography, I started the Esperanza Dance Project.
WorldStrides: How do you pair the dance performance with teachings?
Braun-Miscione: Well, I knew I didn’t just want to create a performance piece. I wanted this project to truly educate and inform students, administrators, school staff, parents and community members. So I reached out to professionals in our community, with a goal of creating a comprehensive Study Guide. It provides extensive information about sexual violence and its impact on teens; performance and community resources available to counteract it; and journaling prompts for personal use by students themselves.: very empowering project feature is that all the dancers and our eight student interns are trained to be “Peer Advocates.” This training equips our EDP members with the knowledge to provide support and resources to at-risk youth. After every performance, the dancers facilitate Q&A’s, which have been extremely successful in starting conversations and creating safe spaces for survivors, families, and friends to share important discussions about sexual violence.
WorldStrides: You have recently been named one of 2016’s Disruptive Women to Watch in Health Care, can you tell us about this award and what it means to you?
Braun-Miscione: Being named one of 2016’s Disruptive Women to Watch in Health Care has been an extremely humbling experience for me and a tremendous honor. This group’s mission is to serve as a platform for provocative ideas, thoughts and solutions in the health sphere. Honestly, when I looked at the bios of the other 15 women on the list I was blown away! Receiving recognition from an organization that recognizes women like Clara Barton, founder of the American Red Cross, has been tremendous validation of the work I do with Esperanza Dance Project. It truly encourages and inspires me to keep moving forward with our work.
WorldStrides: You’re a WorldStrides OnStage traveler, can you tell us about that experience and what travel performance means to you and your dancers?
Braun-Miscione: I started traveling with WorldStrides OnStage in 2010 and have participated in six events since. Our first event was the Orange Bowl, and I really didn’t know what to expect. All I can say is that the experience far exceeded my expectations. My students told me back then– and continue to tell me– that traveling with World Strides and bowl-game participation has given them the best and most exciting performances of their lives. They’ve gotten so much out of working with the amazing choreographers and clinicians, too. They come home so excited and filled with inspiration! I’ve also loved the personal opportunity to connect with other dance professionals, since I get so busy with my dance world in Tucson that I become somewhat detached from the bigger dance world out there.
WorldStrides: What advice would you give to other dance teachers who would like to travel with WorldStrides?
Braun-Miscione: Do it!!! These experiences are truly once-in-a-lifetime experiences for young dancers. They’re well worth the money and the time and energy it takes to make it all happen.
WorldStrides: Any other comments you would like to add?
Braun-Miscione: WorldStrides OnStage is an amazing organization that goes above and beyond to create experiences for young people that they will cherish for their entire lives. Thank you for all that you do!
Learn more about WorldStrides OnStage Programs.