Caribbean Made Dance Press Releases

Two Young St. Maarteners Awarded Scholarships to Debbie Allen Dance Academy Summer Intensive 2023

PHILIPSBURG, St. Maarten – Two young St. Maarten dancers have received a rare opportunity to uplevel their skills at the academy founded by award-winning and multi-genre dancer/actor/director Debbie Allen.

Senlly Samuel and Faith Peterson, who attended the 2022 Summer Intensive by Arts Saves Lives Foundation (ASLF) have been awarded scholarships to attend the Debbie Allen Dance Academy (DADA) in California in 2023. Their scholarships cover the tuition for the month-long comprehensive curriculum rooted in techniques of Ballet and Modern with additional classes in Contemporary, Jazz, Hip Hop, African, Dunham, Tap, and Musical Theater.

The dancers came to the attention of the academy through ASLF teaching artist 2022 Mrs. Vivian Nixon, who is the daughter of Debbie Allen and Associate Artistic Director at DADA.

ASLF founder Nicole De Weever thanked Nixon and Allen for the awards stating that both dancers were trained locally at National Institute of Art-NIA and are now studying dance in The Netherlands.

Senlly Samuel (18) and Vivian Nixon of Debbie Allen Dance Academy at Art Saves Lives Foundation Summer Intensive on St. Maarten in July 2022.

“It speaks volume of the incredible and solid training they both received from director and teacher Arlene Newhouse Halley at NIA. ASLF is extremely proud of this wonderful opportunity for our students,” said De Weever. “Thank you, Mrs., Nixon for acknowledging and recognizing Faith’s and Senlly’s promising and exceptional talent.”

Senlly, now 18, credits the foundation’s annual summer program as one of the main reasons he began to love dance at 14.

“Seeing the amazing professionals being brought to our small island and sharing the same space with them inspired me to work harder and become a part of that community. I never expected to be given such a large opportunity and to be able to learn from others around the world. It was truly shocking to be awarded a full scholarship. The opportunity to be taught by Debbie Allen herself and other incredible teachers is mind-blowing. Art truly saves Lives and allows dreams to come true,” Senlly said.

Faith Peterson, 19, was equally awed by the honor.

“To be granted a full scholarship to DADA’s Summer Intensive is one of the greatest moments in my life. I grew up admiring Debbie Allen and her work, and one of her children’s books “Dancing in the Wings” was my favorite book as a kid. It feels so surreal for me to be noticed by such an amazing artist with a phenomenal reputation in the dance world. It showed that I’m on a good path to my goal of becoming an artist one day and regardless of being from such a small island, that my hard work and immense love and passion for what I do can get me to bigger and better places,” Peterson said. “I plan to give this opportunity the best that I’ve got when the time comes.”

Faith Peterson (19) and Vivian Nixon of Debbie Allen Dance Academy at Art Saves Lives Foundation Summer Intensive on St. Maarten in July 2022.

The Debbie Allen Dance Academy has a focus on working with disenfranchised Black and Latino communities using dance, theater, and performance to enrich, inspire and transform the lives of their students. It counts Allen’s sister, actress Phylicia Rashad, showrunner Shonda Rhimes, and actors Denzel & Pauletta Washington as part of its board of directors.

The Summer Intensive is slated for June 26 to July 23, 2023. Alumni include actor Corbin Bleu of High School Musical fame, Chloe and Maud Arnold, who have also been teaching artists at Art Saves Lives Foundation’s Summer Intensives over the years.

Learn more about DADA at

Learn more about Art Saves Lives Foundation at

About Art Saves Lives Foundation

Art Saves Lives Foundation is a cross-cultural exchange between youth in need and experienced practicing artists who seek to use their talents for positive change. Each summer the foundation coordinates a Summer Intensive which caters to over 100 children. This collaborative project selects renowned artists from around the world who use the arts to introduce participants to global and local traditions and empower them with the life skills necessary to effectively deal with the demands and challenges of everyday life. The Summer Intensive also provides guidance for young artists with aspirations in pursuing a career in the arts.



October 28, 2022

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