Hannah’s Dancers is Giving Underprivileged Kids a Chance to Dance

by Bridget Conrad | 6/19/2019 7:54 PM

Photo Credit: Paul Bersebach, Orange County Register/SCNG

Hannah Weinmeister isn’t your typical 16-year-old dancer. Aside from continuously training to improve her own craft, she’s determined to spread the joy of dance to kids who may not have the means to afford proper training. Through her nonprofit, Hannah’s Dancers, she’s hosting a summer dance program from June 10 – August 1 for children ages 5-12 at a special Boys & Girls Club location in California that’s been itching to get dancers in it for a decade.

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Since she was in the 2nd grade, Weinmeister knew that she wanted to work with kids, and given her talent in dance, it was only natural for her to combine these two passions. So, with the help of her mom, she formed a nonprofit called Hannah’s Dancers to provide underprivileged children with the same quality of dance instruction that she had received since age 2. Ultimately, Weinmeister wants Hannah’s Dancers to give at-risk youth the chance to learn to dance in a safe, loving, and professional environment. She wants children to be able to learn and grow in the art of dance without the day-to-day worry of how they will afford dance instruction.

Photo Credit: Rhonda Weinmeister via OC Register

Weinmeister’s summer dance program at the Via Positiva Boys & Girls Club branch in San Juan Capistrano, CA, is scheduled for June 10 – Aug. 1. Throughout this program, she will teach a class of 20 kids a variety of different dance genres including jazz, lyrical, tap, and ballet at no cost. “I want to spread the joy of dance and the passion I have for it,” Weinmeister told the OC Register. Weinmeister is not only starting to meet her nonprofit's goal this summer, but she’s also fulfilling a longtime dance dream at this specific Boys & Girls Club branch.

The studio that Weinmeister is using for her program was built a decade ago and paid for by philanthropists Traci and Jim Parr. Traci had a strong passion for this particular Boys & Girls Club branch and specifically donated money for the branch to build a dance studio in the club’s teen center. She died of breast cancer in 2009, and a decade after her death, dance classes are still not taught in the studio. Even though the room is equipped with a wooden floor, floor-to-ceiling dance mirrors, and soundproof panels, it's sole purpose has been a music studio for teens.

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This summer dance program, sponsored by Hannah's Dancers, is the first time the studio is being used in the way Traci wished, and Hannah's Dancers hopes to make this program an annual summer series. The nonprofit has already purchased ballet barres and portable mirrors to expand the dance space beyond the studio. Through donations, it will also provide students with dance shoes, and students will wear Hannah’s Dancers t-shirts to class.

Photo Credit: Paul Bersebach, Orange County Register/SCNG

Even though Weinmeister doesn’t plan to pursue a career as a professional dancer, that doesn't mean she’s not dedicated to her craft. She recently won a prestigious spot in the Joffrey Ballet Summer Intensive Program. While Weinmeister is at Joffrey for a week in June, Ann-Marie McClellan, director of the dance at JSerra High School, and Dana Zoon, who graduated as a company member of the Joffrey Ensemble and dances with the Jersey City Ballet Theater, will fill in as teachers.

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In addition to teaching her summer program, Weinmeister also has a part-time job instructing children at Pacific Ballet Conservatory in Aliso Viejo, which is the studio where she also takes classes. From Weinmeister’s own experiences, she learned that dance builds confidence, strength, and joy. She believes dance is something all children all over the world should be able to experience, and organizations like Hannah's Dancers bring us one step closer to making that goal possible. 

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