Who We Are
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 7th year of programming, Performing Ourselves has served hundreds of youth participants, employed over 20 university students, and impacted numerous community centers, schools, and after school programs 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.