Children's Dance Foundation (Birmingham, AL)

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Two photos of children, side by side.  On the left is a boy with his arms outstreched, on the right a girl gestures with her hands, she wears pink ribbons on her pigtails.

Young children participate in Movement-to-Music, part of Children's Dance Foundation's Community Partnership Program.  Photos courtesy of Children's Dance Foundation

Since 1975, the Children's Dance Foundation (CDF) has provided outreach programs and classes to the Birmingham community, growing into a dance education organization that currently reaches more than 3,000 students each week. CDF strives to reach a broad range of students, regardless of age, gender, disability, race, or economic status, believing that by developing dance skills they can increase a student's creativity and confidence.

In FY 2005, CDF received an NEA Learning in the Arts grant of $10,000 for Movement-to-Music, the cornerstone program in its curriculum. Each week, at 30 different sites, nearly 1,500 students ages 2-7 years participated in Movement-to-Music. More than half of the students were at-risk or disadvantaged children, many with physical, emotional, or mental disabilities. CDF's teachers and musicians are specially trained to work with these children and use inclusive techniques that teach them how to go beyond their disabilities to express themselves through movement.

During the sessions, trained dance instructors and live pianists utilized songs, stories, games, and tactile objects to build body awareness and creative thinking. Instructors, in addition to being seasoned dancers, are trained extensively in education and child development and taught ways to impart dance skills in a manner that is fun, inviting, and experimental. By introducing dance and live music to children at such a young age, CDF is profoundly influencing each child's ability to think creatively and to express him or herself.

(From the NEA 2005 Annual Report)