The L2R Story
L2R Dance was established in 2009, and was formed from dance classes run by Jacinda Richards at the Western English Language School (WELS) in Braybrook in Melbourne’s west. The classes gave the young people a fun and social aspect to their learning, and offered an opportunity to make friends and connect through the universal language of dance in a safe and supportive environment. As the young people graduated from WELS and moved into mainstream schools, they expressed a strong desire to be able to continue with their dance, and so L2R was born.
In January 2015, Jacinda received a phone call from the Ministry of Arts Australia that dramatically changed her life. In a few seconds, L2R grew from being a small community group to a professional not for profit organisation and registered charity! L2R was recognised as a significant cultural organisation by the Ministry of Arts Australia and added to the Register of Cultural Organisations (RoCO) and endorsed with Deductible Gift Recipient (DGR) status and Charity Tax Concessions (TCC).
L2R makes dance accessible to young people who can’t access regular dance schools and activities due to social barriers. L2R's purpose is to advance culture through arts and cultural activities, contributing to the nation's vibrant cultural life.
L2R has a deep connection to Hip-hop dance culture. The facilitators all have over 10 years’ experience travelling and performing, and are all still active participants in Hip-hop culture today. L2R sees Hip-hop dance as something that goes beyond the classroom - it’s something that you integrate into your everyday life.
Hip-hop is a global phenomenon, proliferated upon two trajectories – the commercial image of rap, and the grass-roots movement of hip-hop culture. Belonging to the latter, Hip-hop dance is an inherently communal activity. Participants gather to perform, develop and socialise.
Hip-hop dance consists of four core styles – Breakin’, Uprock, Popping and Locking. Although these styles were developed in different parts of the U.S., all represent the free expression of young people who find themselves on the margins. L2R draws from this history of Hip-hop culture with its aims to empower and critique social issues that affect young people in Melbourne’s west.
The young people that access L2R’s workshops get the opportunity to develop, perform and participate in community events around Melbourne, and L2R extends its support so participants can attend community gatherings across Australia where possible. This enables a young person to experience and appreciate the broader Hip-hop community that they are connected to.
Beyond the dance studio
L2R’s support for young people and their social welfare extends well beyond the dance studio. We work with organisations such as Spirit West, Maribyrnong Youth Services, Brimbank Youth services, , Spectrum Migrant Resource Centre, and Western English Language School to support young people with education, employment pathways, social welfare concerns and other recreational activities such as sports, music and camps.
In 2017/18 L2R engaged with 139 young people across our free dance programs. The young people that access L2R programs represent 29 cultural or ethnic backgrounds, and were born in 21 different countries including, Burma, Iran, Liberia, Thailand, Vietnam, Somalia and Sudan.