Who We Are

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Performing  Ourselves  is  a  dance  outreach project  based in Madison, WI that empowers youth through dance. The program teaches a movement-based  curriculum to youth in schools and local  community  centers.   Performing  Ourselves  combines dance  education,   dance/movement  therapy  principles  and performance  to foster  embodiment,  resiliency,  and positive self-concept in underserved youth.


Through an innovative curriculum, Performing Ourselves uses the   modality    of    movement    to    increase    participants' confidence,    competence,    personal   character,   ability   to contribute,  sense of control,  coping skills, and connection to each  other and  their surroundings  (Kenneth Ginsburg's 7 C's for  Fostering  Resilience).  These building blocks of resiliency  empower and equip  the  5-14  year old  program participants, youth who are  90%  children  of  color  and  95-100%  living in poverty.


Art  and  movement  are  an  essential  and  enriching  part  of youth's  lives.   Carla  Hannaford   (1995)  wrote  in  her  book, Smart   Moves:   Why   Learning  Is   Not   All   in   Your   Head, “movement  activates the  neural wiring throughout the body, making  the whole  body the  instrument of  learning.”   Dance improves   motor   skills,   decision   making,   creativity,    risk taking,  cultural understanding,  attentiveness,  and awareness.  Performing Ourselves  brings quality  dance  programming  to  youth  who would  typically  have difficulty accessing these opportunities.


A  2014  report by the Any Given Child Madison team revealed that  0%  of  K-6th  graders,  3%  of  7th graders and 5% of 8th graders  in  the  Madison  Metropolitan  School  District  were enrolled  in  a  dance  course  taught  by  a certified specialist. Entering its sixth year of programming,  Performing Ourselves has served hundreds of youth participants,  employed over 20 university  students,  and impacted  9  community  centers  all around  the city of Madison.  Program teachers  have  learned valuable skills that they have taken into their lives beyond the university.   To  learn   more   about   where   the  Performing Ourselves teaching alumni are now, click here.