By KATIE BORKOWSKI
CARROLL – Kuemper Catholic student, Lauren Macke, auditioned for – and was given the opportunity – to create a PSA on bullying with MusEffect Dance Company, which she called “a life-changing” experience.
Macke, a junior, spent a week in southern California this past summer. Along with the PSA, she also helped promote a new app called “Sit with Me.”
According to the website, MusEffect is a non-profit organization “committed to fostering a constructive dialogue on social issues through performance art, while enriching and empowering audiences of all socioeconomic backgrounds.”
At Kuemper, Macke is part of the school’s dance team, Kuemper Kix. In Carroll, she also does basic studio dance with Fusion Dance, which includes tap, jazz, and ballet and competitive dance including lyrical, jazz and hip-hop.
Macke decided to audition because she had been following MusEffect on Facebook and other social media.
“I had been seeing this program every year,” she said. “I have also been taking classes from them for years. I was extremely interested.”
Even though she auditioned in 2016 and didn’t make it, Macke decided to audition again in 2017 and was successful. To audition, she needed to make a video.
The requirements were to answer questions about dance and why Macke wanted to be a part of this experience. Then, she was to show herself dancing for one minute. Once Macke did that, she waited for about a month. On a specific date, a video was posted with a list of the people who were accepted.
“I freaked out when I saw my name,” she said. “I had about three months to prepare and pack.”
On July 16, she flew to Los Angeles, Calif. Day two was filled with nine hours of dancing and a service project.
“We created paintings for the Orange County Children’s Therapeutic Arts Center to auction off and raise money for them,” said Macke, who shared the video she helped create at https://youtu.be/cJUXPNDFnFo.
Day three was the photo shoot day when they took dance pictures and headshots. Day four was filled with dancing and boxing. They went to the City of Angels Boxing to learn how to box and to challenge themselves, explained Macke.
The last day was spent filming the PSA about “Sit With Us.” In the video, Macke can be spotted wearing a light-yellow sweater. View the video at //youtu.be/gQyukHRKBOs.
“The PSA that I help create was about the app ‘Sit With Us,’” said Macke. “It is about a girl who started to notice many people who weren’t sitting next to anyone at lunch. She then gets an idea to create the app ‘Sit With Us.’”
According to Natalie (no last name provided), the 16-year-old founder of “Sit With Us,” the organization was inspired by “a miserable experience” of being bullied in middle school.
“Apart from the verbal taunts and violence, one of the worst things was having to eat lunch alone, and the embarrassment of having others see me eating lunch alone,” she wrote on the organization’s website.
After Natalie changed schools, whenever she saw someone eating lunch alone, she would invite the person to join the group.
“Each time, the person’s face would light up, and the look of relief would wash over the person’s face,” she wrote. “Some of those people have become some of my closest friends.”
Reflecting on her experience, Macke said MusEffect is an “amazing” organization.
“Most companies just dance and put on shows, but this company is a non-profit organization that raises awareness of different issues around the world.”
The dancer added, “This may sound cliche but this experience was life-changing. It changed not only my dancing, but my way of thinking. I could not have asked for anything more.”
For more information about MusEffect, visit the organizations website at www.museffect.org. Check out the “Sit With Us” app on a smart phone or go to http://sitwithus.io/#!/Home.