Energized and full of excitement from her recent trip to Port-au-Prince, Haiti, the owner of All Nations Dance is determined to continue to provide a dance experience and assistance to a country considered the poorest of the Western Hemisphere.
“Being in Haiti is like going back in time,” said D. Maximillion Elliott-Quinerly, executive director. “I’ve never seen anything like it. It is a poverty-stricken area with garbage all in the streets.”
|OH, WHAT A SHOE—Just one of many items sold through All Nations Dancewear is the ballet sandal.
Traveling to Port-au-Prince as part of a mission trip sponsored by Greater Works Outreach Church, Elliott-Quinerly, other congregations, missionaries, and Haitian staff provided a spiritual uplifting for the 46 girls in the Greater Works Home for Girls.
In Haiti for the last week of October during its traditional week of celebrating the devil with Halloween and All Saints Day, Elliott-Quinerly’s goal was to teach dance techniques in a jubilant and uplifting manner. The orphanage opened 25 years ago to take in children from families that couldn’t take care of them or with no family at all.
Grateful for the experience and opportunity, but also affected by it, Elliott-Quinerly has plans through All Nations Dance to conduct fundraisers throughout the year to help provide shoes for the children as well as to help them enjoy a nice Christmas experience which will include dinner. “Some of the children have never had a new pair or even a decent pair of shoes or celebrated Christmas in the way we know it,” she said.
All Nations Dance, begun in 2007, is a worship arts network that provides training, encouragement and a safe place to explore one’s creativity. Based in Ambridge, out of New Hope Community Church and under Elliott-Quinerly’s leadership, the group travels to communities such as Wilkinsburg and throughout the city of Pittsburgh, East as far as Monroeville, South Hills, Mon Valley, California University of Pennsylvania, North Hills and Beaver County conducting classes. She also has danced in South Africa and plans to return in a couple years and to perform in India.
Their spiritual vision is for the world to know the group by the love they share for one another. Elliott-Quinerly says the group strives to be an excellent example of the Body of Christ; diverse as the purposes, locations and networks of each individual body part. “But yet, functioning gloriously in concert as one body and that we be one as Christ and the Father are one.”
Locally her vision is to have her north, south, east and west dance communities merge regionally quarterly to learn from each other. “I find that people don’t cross bridges. By coming together through dance barriers and stereotypical-thinking can be broken and each dancer can experience all that is out there for them.”
In Wilkinsburg, operating out of the Hossana House on Wednesdays, AND conducted a summer camp with more than 50 middle and high school youths. Elliott-Quinerly said students learn techniques in classical ballet and choreography variations of styles in jazz, modern, horton and hip-hop. “We encourage our students to dream, to believe in them self and to press forward.”
An Englewood, Calif., native, Elliott-Quinerly practices what she preaches after being denied the opportunity to dance as a child in her church. With no formal training she is following her dream. Depending on her gifts and a strong faith in God, in 2007 after attending a dance conference in Ohio she returned home quit her job and started All Nations Dance. Now she serves as the official dance team for the Pittsburgh Gospel Choir, had the opportunity to perform during the Pittsburgh 250 celebrations and participated in the 2008 PNC Park Gospel Fest. More than 100 dancers have volunteered their time and talent to make her vision a reality of a developing a not-for-profit organization and International Liturgical Dance and Worships Arts Network, representing various individuals and organizations from diverse backgrounds, races, age, ethnic and social economic groups.
“All Nations Dance is what I term a Zero-Budget Ministry,” says Elliott-Quinerly. “Meaning it was started from nothing but a yes! One yes and zero dollars for a budget. As a result, out of necessity All Nations Dancewear has been created.” She explains it started because of an illness of a vessel, the desire to fulfill the order of a South African youth and the ongoing necessity for both physical and monetary resources for AND to fulfill its vision. Blessed with good and positive people being place in her life, Elliott-Quinerly says that a woman whom she’d became acquainted with walked up to her and said, “the Lord told me to sow into your ministry.” “After which she began to sew, literally,” says Elliott-Quinerly. “She sewed overlays, professionally finished flags, donated billows and gave her invaluable time and expertise. She came to worship services, ironed clothing, assisted dancers and taught the dancers ways to assist one another. Because of her giving, in November 2007 AND was able to sow more than 50 garment pieces, billows and glory hoops into the South African Youth who have since formed two dance-worship ministry teams.
Internet based, Elliott-Quinerly said All Nations Dancewear fulfills the need to furnish the basics; a leotard and a pair of Palazzos or Capris and/or a double circle skirt and appropriate shoes. She confesses that her line is limited but stresses that they carry an exhaustive line of shoes, outlining the ballet sandal that’s a cross between a slipper and dance sandal.
Excited about the future of her company, Elliott-Quinerly and her team of Christy Johnson, associate artistic director and Nadirah Robinson, east community dance leader, both graduates of CAPA High School, are preparing and planning for upcoming events. The Wilkinsburg Fall/Winter East Dance classes continue with a special performance to be held Dec. 4. Trainer to Trainer classes will start in 2010 for people interested in starting dance ministries. On Dec. 12, “Come Let Us Adore Him” will be performed for Jubilee Ministries in Plum borough.
(For information on All Nations Dance, call 412-979-7476 or go to www.allnationsdance.org.)