• ,

Dancing waiters stun, then rock fundraiser

The menu alone would’ve been enough to give Hope Stone New Orleans’ recent Dinner For Dance! fundraiser high marks. Patrons at Lighthouse Glass on Camp Street enjoyed a four-course meal made from in-season, local products by executive chefs Christopher Lynch (Atchafalaya) and Eric Labouchere (Martinique Bistro), as well as Martinique sous chef Nat Carrier. They also enjoyed live music, and performances by Alternative Collaborations Dance.

But it was what happened after the entrée course that really had people talking. The wait staff, composed of 18 Tulane freshmen from the Freeman School of Business, suddenly began banging on glasses on the table – much to the surprise of the guests.

The banging soon became a musical rhythm, and the students – all participants in the TIDES program (Tulane InterDisicplinary Experience Seminars) – broke into a rehearsed, choreographed dance. (See Video)

"It was a really fun way for the students to offer volunteer services, get to know community members, network and make connections,” said Hope Stone New Orleans Director Dana Reed, who choreographed the flashmob. “Three students actually received job offers at the event. It was a great way for freshmaen to experience New Orleans culture and art.”

The event was aimed at raising money to provide scholarships for at-risk children and youth to attend the Hope Stone Kids New Orleans programs, which are held year-round at NOLA Spaces and various schools and community centers. Additional event sponsors were Event Rental, Lighthouse Glass, Old New Blue, and the Positive Vibrations Foundation.

Hope Stone New Orleans is an extension of Houston-based Hope Stone, Inc., a non-profit organization that unlocks the innate creativity of young people and adults and is committed to providing art for all and expanding boundaries through engaging artistic experiences.

Established in 2002 in Houston and then expanded to New Orleans in 2010, the Hope Stone Kids program affirms the belief that art is primary and essential education for all, and brings skilled master teachers and artists to train students in dance, music photography, theater, improvisation, creative writing, drumming and yoga.

Hope Stone Kids provides an arts education that builds self-esteem, confidence and the skills that children need to be the next generation of creative thinkers and problem solvers.

In New Orleans, Hope Stone offers adult classes and children's arts programming. Hope Stone Kids New Orleans offers free arts education to more than 300 underserved youth in New Orleans each year and reaches out to children of all demographics in conjunction with existing after-school programs, various community locations, local public schools, home schooled students and youth community centers. The students gain a greater knowledge of the city’s rich arts culture and heritage while expanding their own individual creativity and self-expression.

This is particularly important, Reed said, “because after-school and summertime can often be a boring, unstructured and even dangerous time for children and youth when they are left unsupervised while parents have to work. This means they will likely spend their free time in an unfulfilling – and even unsafe – environment.

“We want to reward children and youth who have shown creativity, potential, and dedication to the Hope Stone Kids program, giving them a productive way to cultivate their talents and build their dreams.”

Hope Stone partners include CP3 Afterschool Zone at KIPP Central City Primary, the Greater New Orleans Home School Alliance, Encore Academy, Morris Jeff Community School, and NOLA Spaces rehearsal and performance studios.

Hope Stone New Orleans is located at 1719 Toledano St. New Orleans, LA. For more information, call 504 390 8399.

Brian Friedman writes about New Orleans for NolaVie.