The National Dance Institute Helps Children Keep the Dream Alive

by Bridget Conrad | 7/10/2017 9:55 PM

National Dance Institute Dream Project on

Photo Credit: National Dance Institute’s Instagram

As a fan of the dance community, I read all the time how dance is a universal language and that everyone should be afforded the opportunity to express themselves through dance. Thankfully, the community has organizations such as the National Dance Institute (NDI) in New York. This organization uses dance and music to instill a love of the arts in young students. One of the featured programs that the NDI puts on is The DREAM Project, which is a dance workshop for children of all abilities. DREAM stands for Dancers Realize Excellence through Arts and Movement.

The NDI was founded in 1976 by New York City principal dancer Jacques d’Amboise, and is still a leader in the field of arts education. Under the artistic direction of Ellen Weinstein, NDI uses the arts to awaken a passion for learning and a desire for students to do their best daily. Since its founding, NDI has impacted the lives of two million children, free of charge. NDI dancers represent a diverse population and the majority come from low-income families. "There are children who live each day struggling with academics, with complicated family lives, and with emotional and physical challenges. I have seen these children leave the dance floor with a renewed spirit of hope, better able to handle the problems they face because of the inner peace they derive from the beauty of dance," said Shelley Harwayne, Educator and former District Superintendent, New York City Public Schools.

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The Dream Project is a special program that was inspired by the NDI sponsored in-school program for students with special needs, and is run by board certified pediatric physical therapist Agnes McConlogue Ferro. This five-day workshop is held in New York and offers children of all abilities the chance to move, dance, and achieve things that they never thought were possible. Children with wide-ranging abilities are paired with peers of the same age to maximize participation. Check out this video of The DREAM Project on the news in 2015: .

National Dance Institute Dream Project on

Photo Credit: National Dance Institute’s Instagram

Students in the workshop master choreography while gaining partnership and performance skills. The whole group works toward functional goals, while in a joyful, rigorous, and supportive group dynamic. On the last day of the workshop, students participate in an informal performance to celebrate the children’s achievements. This year, the workshop takes place on August 14-18, 2017 in New York. If you would like to sign a child up for the workshop, contact program director Aileen Barry to sign up at, 212-226-0083.

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To me, The DREAM Project exemplifies the core of dance. When I watched videos of children from all different backgrounds performing together it reminded me of the power that the arts can have over a community. Arts education is so important for all young students, no matter their race, religion, or income level. With organizations like the NDI, more children are gaining a passion for something positive like the arts, therefore they are more likely to stay out of trouble. We all know that children’s minds are sponges, so if they are taught an appreciation for the arts early in life, it will be something that brings them joy for many years to come.

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