The mission of Dance for All Bodies (DfAB) is to dismantle the notion that dance is for a certain kind of body and to spread the joy of dance to all bodies. Dance for All Bodies is the only organization in the Bay Area that uses dance classes to empower people with disabilities in creative expression. Our dance classes are adaptive, which means movements are intended and instructed to be modified by the participant to better fit their body. Though we, Yagmur and Tess (co-founders), are both able-bodied dancers from technical dance backgrounds, we believe that dance belongs to the people, that us dancing together, regardless of ability, is what brings us collective peace, joy, and wellbeing. Dance for All Bodies is planting the seeds of a future where people with differently abled bodies are thoroughly included and honored not only in dance but also in our society.
Since August 2018, Yagmur and Tess have organized 15 classes, the majority of which have been funded by the Big Ideas award, and have impacted upwards of 50 people. We offer classes at the Ed Roberts Campus in Berkeley and at the Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital in California’s beautiful Bay Area. Currently, we offer adaptive dance classes in salsa, contact improvisation, and hip-hop. In 2020-2021, we are set to pilot new classes in adaptive flamenco, Lindy Hop, and diaspora dance styles. Within less than a year, Dance for All Bodies has sprouted and is on a growth trajectory, but we need your help to ensure it thrives.
The Impact of Your Donations
Through your donations, Dance for All Bodies will organize 15 more dance classes, pilot new dance styles, and expand our core team to scale our impact.
-In light of the current events, we will not be able to host our classes scheduled from mid-March to May. Therefore, we will use $300 from our dance class budget outlined below, to pay our teachers for the classes they weren't able to teach.-
Dance Classes: With your help, DfAB will continue to organize three high quality dance classes per month. We will pilot flamenco, swing dance, and diaspora dance classes to see if we can add these styles to our current salsa, hip hop, and contact improvisation classes. The cost of each dance class is $170 and includes payment for the teacher, space rental, administrative fees, insurance coverage, and social media advertisements for our classes. We plan to host 15 dance classes over September - December 2020, thus a grand total of $2,550.
Workforce Development: We need to expand our core staff to 3 people (Yagmur, Tess, and 1 other lucky individual) by the end of 2020. Currently, we don’t have anyone on our team who is part of the community Dance for All Bodies serves. It is essential that we include people in the disabled community in all aspects of this organization, particularly because Yagmur and Tess do not live with disabilities. As many people with disabilities face great undue financial burden, we need to be able to provide a stipend to pay an additional staff member for their time with us.
We want to hire a third core staff member for 10 months with a stipend of $1000. We have currently budgeted $550 towards this stipend and need to raise the remaining $450.
If you are interested in seeing more details on our budget, check out this GoogleDoc.
Measuring the Impact of Your Donations
Below are three outcomes we hope to achieve through our future dance classes, through more rigorous promotion, and by expanding our core team. We will make sure that we are creating the impact we aim for by measuring the indicators listed below each outcome.
Outcome 1: Increased number of participants in classes
1) Higher retention rate among current participants.
2) Increased number of new participants in our classes.
Outcome 2: Increased representation of people with differently abled bodies in our volunteers and staff
1) Greater number of people who identify as disabled on staff, as volunteers, and as advisors.
2) Using a more accessible hiring process and offering more work accommodations for volunteers and staff.
Outcome 3: Long term partnerships with other dance, disability, and health organizations solidified.
1) DfAB collaborates with a partner organization to secure space, schedule multiple classes, and promote to new audiences.
2) More organizations reaching out to us for our dance class services.
Our Origin Story
The inspiration behind DfAB emerged in August 2018 when Yagmur was asked by members of the amputee support group at San Francisco General Hospital to organize an adaptive dance class for their monthly meeting. She got in touch with dancer Dwayne Scheuneman, a former member of Oakland’s pioneering physically integrated dance group, AXIS Dance Company, to teach a class for the amputee support group. This was the first time a dance class had been offered at San Francisco General Hospital for people with amputations and it was the first time support group members had tried dancing since their amputations. Yagmur had no idea what the response would be and hoped for the best.
To her delight, every participant in this dance class left asking when the next class would be and fortunately, Yagmur didn’t need much convincing to organize another one. The seeds of Dance for All Bodies — a dance class where people with disabilities were centered and celebrated — had been sown. She started hatching a plan to bring this idea to fruition and quickly realized that she needed an accomplice to take on the challenge of making dance a more inclusive and accessible art form. This brought Tess, a close friend and a dancer too, into the project.
Armed with optimism, grit, and a learn-as-you-go attitude, Yagmur and Tess submitted a grant proposal to the Big Ideas Contest, a student innovation competition based out of UC Berkeley, in February 2019 to ask for funding to make Dance for All Bodies a reality. Throughout the grant writing process, they were mentored by Marc Brew, the current artistic director of AXIS Dance Company.
Out of 350 proposals, their proposal for Dance for All Bodies won second place in the Arts and Social Change category in April 2019. The DfAB seed had finally broken the soil and sprouted. Dance for All Bodies has been built by the people who come in their wheelchairs, with canes, service animals, with their prostheses and more to dance in our classes. We are so thankful to the folks that take time out of their days to attend our classes and move with us. We are proud to be organizing for inclusion in the performing arts at this current moment in time, when the call and need for social equity and accessibility is clear and strong.
Dance for All Bodies is looking to build long term partnerships to both expand our impact and support other organizations with similar missions. Using dance classes to empower people with differently abled bodies in creative expression has much in common with the work that is being done to change ability-related exclusion in dance and to advance the lives of people with disabilities through recreational activities.
We have established relationships with the Bay Area Outreach and Recreational Program (BORP), whose studio space we use for our classes. Since the start, DfAB has been connected with AXIS Dance Company, the nation’s most acclaimed dance ensemble of disabled and non-disabled performers based in Oakland, CA. We are thankful for AXIS’s guidance, advocacy, and incredible trailblazing in this realm of disability and dance.
Physiatrists, surgeons, prosthetists, and physical therapists at San Francisco General Hospital’s Orthopedic Trauma Institute and UCSF have supported DfAB by connecting us with their patients and helping us find dance space in the hospital.
Dance for All Bodies is currently organizing a zumba class with Challenged Athletes Foundation, a leading adaptive athletics organization, and is collaborating with the Downtown Berkeley Association to host our first outdoor physically integrated salsa class.
We are always looking for other partnership opportunities as well as accessible venues in the Bay Area to host our dance classes and welcome more people into our dance community. If you are interested in bringing DfAB’s physically integrated and adaptive dance classes to your site, such as after school programs, support group meetings, or your workplace, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Why Donate to Us?
Though Dance for All Bodies is their first social impact project, Yagmur and Tess offer more than a shared love of dance to make this endeavor successful.
Tess is a dance lover, a practical dreamer, and a reliable problem solver. She's been making up dances since she was three years old and has continued to make dance a significant part of her life since that young age. She's managed a housing cooperative, currently manages performing arts venues, and with Dance for All Bodies, she's now managing her first nonprofit venture.
Yagmur is a dancer, do-er and lover. Yagmur's passion for non-profit work started in high school when she volunteered at Six Dots Foundation for the Blind in Istanbul, Turkey. Since then, she has volunteered and held coordinator positions in Berkeley Free Clinic and San Francisco General Hospital.