#becauseofHATCH: Quentin Robinson brings the joy of dance to refugees & students
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#becauseofHATCH: Quentin Robinson brings the joy of dance to refugees & students

When Quentin Robinson arrived at Moonlight Lodge for HATCH Big Sky 2016, he knew he’d be sharing his incredible talent and love of dance with a curated network of innovators and game changers.  He had no idea he would be making a global impact within months of HATCH by sharing his talent and passion with a community of refugees in Uganda, and later making plans to connect global networks of students through artistic performance. 

Between teaching other HATCHers new choreography and delivering powerful performances, Quentin connected with media producer and Nimia Founder, Zach McIntosh.  HATCH was allowing Quentin to see the very real possibility of pursuing dance as his full time career, and Zach had the media industry experience to make that dream a reality.  Through a series of creative brainstorming conversations they realized the potential for a video campaign to increase the commercial viability of Quentin’s passion.

As HATCH came to a close, the two made a plan to meet in nearby Bozeman to explore creative concept videos focused on dance and performance art. While he was in Bozeman he opted to stop in a coffee shop, where he ran into another HATCHer Angela Eifert of the American Refugee Committee .  Quentin offered to give Angela a ride to the airport where what he describes as “the freak accident” that changed his life took place.

On the 20-minute ride, Quentin and Angela discussed her work with refugees around the world, and the deep fulfillment bringing resources and joy to those communities brought her.  Quentin reflected off-hand that he would love to dance with them someday.  All it took to set things in motion from there was Angela’s response: “Let’s do it.”

Before Angela’s departure at the airport the two had exchanged contact information, and immediately began working on fundraising ideas. Quentin reached out to HATCH Executive Board Member and media rockstar Elke Govertsen for suggestions, and describes her response as a “fundraising campaign and ideas fountain.”  To date, Quentin gives huge credit to both Elke and his partner Bethany Stanbery with giving him the support and encouragement to make his dreams a reality. 

Less than one month from saying yes to the idea, Quentin had raised the necessary funding (with significant support from his new HATCH network), and was on his way to bring the creative outlet of dance to the Makavili Refugee Settlement in Uganda.

Quentin had one camera, Angela had another.  Immediately upon arriving they began filming everything – from the community’s daily life to the spontaneous and structured dance lessons Quentin was giving to lift people above their strife.  The results were instantaneous and powerful.  Children and adults alike immersed themselves in the moment and gave their all to the choreography, huge smiles on their faces throughout.

From there, bigger ideas erupted about how to do more with this type of interaction.  Seeing the transformative power of dance in action set Quentin thinking about ways this type of interaction could help break down cultural barriers between students across the U.S. and around the world.  He’s now working toward live projection dance classes and Q&A sessions between kids hundreds, if not thousands, of miles apart.  For instance, students in a rural Montana school could ultimately connect and perform with kids living in Uganda.  The ultimate goal would be a documentary web series that demonstrates the value of these cross-cultural connections and spreading a global understanding that our similarities far outweigh our divisive differences.

In the meantime, Quentin has also left his day job as a remediation specialist and is teaching dance classes and performing in Missoula.  He credits fellow HATCHers Joel Martin and John Yoder for helping him put together branding and a website for his class and performance work; and HATCHer Alton Brooks Parker for connecting him with a potential interview on The Grio could open other doors for PR and promotion.  In recent months he’s delivered a TEDx talk in Bozeman, Montana; performed at The Last Best Conference, VidCon, and a Missoula concert featuring Blind Pilot and HATCHer Butterscotch.

Those are a lot of accomplishments to list for a single year since the last HATCH, and Quentin has the mindset and determination to keep them coming:

“HATCH is all about the disruption of the norm.  You’re used to walking in one direction, until you get spun in a circle and start running in another.  You can see that happening from the first night…so open your mind and lay it out. Take that opportunity to alter your perceptions and realities.”