About us

Our Mission
To remove barriers to dance education and to build community through dance.

We are a nonprofit dance organization providing access to dance education to the Washington Heights community.

We believe the art of dance is transformative for individuals and communities. There should be no barriers to everyone experiencing the magic that dance holds, so we work to remove the barriers that do exist.

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Our Impact
We love helping budding dancers reach their full potential while performing.

DPWH currently serves over 700 students of different ages, backgrounds, cultures, and socio-economic statuses.

Here are some statistics regarding our student body:

  • 55% of our students are low-income by NYC standards and at least 36% are considered extremely low-income

  • 65% of our students identify as Latinx, and 45% identify as Black

  • 65 students have advanced to a level 2 of ballet instruction, and there are 31 students enrolled in ballet level 3

  • 143 students take 2 classes per week, 35 are enrolled in 3 classes per week, and 10 students take 4 different classes per week

  • 104 current students are boys
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What We Do

  • breaking down gender expectations

    #representationmatters

    #ballet

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    creating performers, storytellers, dreamers, stars

    #dancefriendsarethebestfriends

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    #mentorship

  • DPWH Ensemble

    dance company in training

  • Diverse Faculty

    #representationmatters

  • building community

    #socialdance

  • Community Events

    #Thriller

    #HarvestFestival

  • #rhythm

  • trained and experienced faculty

    #technique

  • Bilingual classes

    salsa, bachata, merengue...y mas

  • child-centered teaching

    positive classroom management

    neuro-diverse classrooms

    #inclusion

  • encouraging kids to be creative, make choices, love themselves and use their voices

  • #earlychildhood

    #bonding

    #communitysupport

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    #socialjustice

    #blacklivesmatter

    #nokidsincages

    #abolishice

  • developing confident, expressive youth

  • teaching the roots

    #hiphopculture

    #streetstyles

  • a community of volunteers

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    #families

    We're all in this together

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    creating leaders, teachers, creators

    #takingupspace

Our Faculty and Staff
Learn more about our team

DPWH faculty is hired for their high level of training, their passion for children and for social justice, and for the array of experience they bring to their classes. We hire teachers who reflect the diversity of dance and our community, who bring warmth and joy to the classroom, and who expect amazing things from their students.

Board of Directors

We would love to hear from you

Feel free to give us a call or send us an email with any questions or comments you have.
Get to Know Keila aka "Light"
April 14, 2021 at 8:00 PM
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We're celebrating DPWH parent, Keila! Her daughter, Aisha has been a student and DPWH Ensemble member for 2 years.

1- What have you enjoyed about being part of the Dance Project Family?

The participation and engagement between parents, teachers and students.

2- What part of New York City do you love most; a favorite NYC spot, favorite thing about NYC, etc?

I love Washington heights! its culture, the people, the food options ext.. My family is Dominican and we are all centered in Washington heights.

3- What food reminds you of childhood?

"Manguu;" it is mashed green plantains with fried eggs and cheese.

4- What makes you feel better when you’re sad?

A Good Prayer.

5- If you were to die and come back as a person or a thing, who or what would it be?

I would love to return as myself again, 100%. With all my defects and virtues.

6- Who are your heroes in real life – dance-related or otherwise?

My Mom is my hero, and dance related Jennifer Lopez AKA (JLO).

7- What do you love about your body?

I am tall, and it works to my advantage in a lot of situations.

8- When did you first know you wanted to be a dancer?

I've always loved to dance since I was a Child.

9- What is the most memorable dance you have ever witnessed?

My daughter's Aisha 1st Ballet performance at the age of 4, Unforgettable.

10- Which choreographer and/or dancer, dead or alive, would you love to take a dance lesson from?

From any Famous best Salsa teacher in NYC.

BONUS QUESTION: Which words of wisdom would you like to offer?

Persistence. It does not matter at what age you start to dance, how many try's you need to get that lesson right or that performance correct, do not give up.

Final Words: Any final words you'd like to share? Any upcoming events, classes, performances, etc?

It has been a real pleasure to be part of Dance Project of Washington Heights.

Get to Know Tessa
March 18, 2021 at 4:00 AM
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We're celebrating our Program Assistant, Tessa! Tessa is a phenomenally talented Barnard College dance student, and we love working with them.

1- What have you enjoyed about being part of the Dance Project Family?

Meeting all of the wonderful faculty and staff and getting to know our amazing dance students!

2- What part of New York City do you love most; a favorite NYC spot, favorite thing about NYC, etc?

I love all the music that you can hear walking through the city. Whether it's people busking in the subway, recorded music coming from bodegas, or people lugging boom boxes through the park, there's always something to dance to.

3- What food reminds you of childhood?

Chocolate chip banana bread!

4- What makes you feel better when you’re sad?

Drinking tea, working on a knitting project, and watching a good movie or tv show.

5- If you were to die and come back as a person or a thing, who or what would it be?

I would want to come back as an octopus, because they have brain cells throughout their body and not just in their head. I think it would be so cool to move in a body with no bones and eight arms. Plus, living in a coral reef sounds pretty sweet.

6- Who are your heroes in real life – dance-related or otherwise?

I've been reading a lot of Audre Lorde recently and am feeling very inspired by her art, insight, and activism. Also Robin Wall Kimmerer, whose book "Braiding Sweetgrass" changed the way I thought about environmentalism.

7- What do you love about your body?

I love how strong my body is, and that it keeps surprising me with what it's capable of. There are movements I used to think were impossible for me that I discovered I can do with a bit of practice!

8- When did you first know you wanted to be a dancer?

When I first saw a dance performance at my high school. The students were so creative and moved so beautifully, and I said "I want to do THAT!"

9- What is the most memorable dance you have ever witnessed?

When I was in high school, I got the chance to see Camille A. Brown and Dancers perform "Mr. TOL E. RAncE" and that was a show I will never forget.

10- Which choreographer and/or dancer, dead or alive, would you love to take a dance lesson from?

I would love to learn from Eiko Otake; her movement is so powerful and captivating, and Japanese Butoh dance is fascinating to me.

BONUS QUESTION: Which words of wisdom would you like to offer?

Explore as many dance techniques and genres as you can! They all have something to teach you.

Get to Know Delicia
February 17, 2021 at 7:00 PM
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We're celebrating Delicia, our new intern who is getting her degree in Human Development in Community Settings at University of Rhode Island!

1- What have you enjoyed about being part of the Dance Project Family?

Although I have not been a part of the Dance Project Family for a long time, I can tell that everyone is extremely passionate about dance and creating a safe and accepting environment for dancers to thrive in. It’s clear that the Dance Project of Washington Heights is more than just learning technique. The Dance Project is a community that encourages all to grow and shine and that is something that I’m so grateful to be a part of!

2- What part of New York City do you love most; a favorite NYC spot, favorite thing about NYC, etc?

My favorite spot in NYC to go to is the dog park in central park. Me and my aunt will take her pug, Daisy, and sit and talk while all of the dogs play! There are usually almost twenty dogs there.

3- What food reminds you of childhood?

When I think back to my childhood, some of my best memories are sitting around a table with my family at holidays. There is a food my grandfather and now my mother makes every year in December called Arancini. It’s an Italian snack- it’s rice shaped into a ball and then cooked. There’s really nothing special about the food itself, but the memories that go along with it makes it my favorite food.

4- What makes you feel better when you’re sad?

When I am sad, I like to listen to happy music and snuggle with my dog, Nicole. It’s amazing how therapeutic music and animals can be!

5- If you were to die and come back as a person or a thing, who or what would it be?

If I were to die and come back as a person or thing, I would want to come back as really big beautiful tree in a park where kids and families play.

6- Who are your heroes in real life – dance-related or otherwise?

In real life, my heroes are my family. I am so proud of how courageous, brave and kind they are each and every day.

7- What do you love about your body?

I love that my body allows me to touch and feel my favorite things- like sand under my feet, water running on my hands, or a cozy blanket wrapped around me.

8- When did you first know you wanted to be a dancer?

I didn’t really want to be a dancer for a big part of my life. I took dance classes when I was little, but then I stopped dancing for a long time because I thought that I was too chubby to dance. I did musical theatre which involved movement, but I was afraid to go ahead and dance. My freshman year of college I started taking dance classes again just for me and just for fun. Although I have learned more about dance moves, the best thing that I’ve taken away from my dance classes is that anyone with a body can dance, whether they are thin, thick, young, old, short or tall!

9- What is the most memorable dance you have ever witnessed?

The most memorable dance I have ever witnessed is when I saw VPA studio’s 12-16 girls group perform a dance about society’s pressure of how people should look. The main message of the dance is that a dancer’s body is their home, and it’s important to love it.

10- Which choreographer and/or dancer, dead or alive, would you love to take a dance lesson from?

I would love to take a dance lesson from Andy Blankenbuehler. He’s choreographed most of my favorite Broadway shows, so it would be really neat!

BONUS QUESTION: Which words of wisdom would you like to offer?

Take a moment to appreciate your body and mind! You’re the only you the world has, and that’s an amazing thought. Take a second each day to be thankful to yourself, even when you’re having a bad day.

Get to Know Jalyn
January 21, 2021 at 11:00 PM
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We're celebrating Jalyn Robinson, one of our longtime students! She is a member of our Performance Ensemble and she loves to be onstage.

1- What have you enjoyed about being part of the Dance Project Family?

What I enjoy the most about being in Dance Project is making friends ad learning new techniques & skills.

2- What part of New York City do you love most; a favorite NYC spot, favorite thing about NYC, etc?

My favorite part of NYC is Bennett park because I've made so many memories and friends at Bennett, specifically during COVID (safely of course.)

3- What food reminds you of childhood?

Fried Chicken

4- What makes you feel better when you’re sad?

Playing my favorite album and dancing to it, watching videos too.

5- If you were to die and come back as a person or a thing, who or what would it be?

A bird.

6- Who are your heroes in real life – dance-related or otherwise?

Most of my family.

7- What do you love about your body?

My legs.

8- When did you first know you wanted to be a dancer?

I used to spin around a lot & I have really long so everyone told me I would be perfect for dance.

9- What is the most memorable dance you have ever witnessed?

Revelations - Alvin Ailey

10- Which choreographer and/or dancer, dead or alive, would you love to take a dance lesson from?

Alvin Ailey

Get to Know Niani
December 17, 2020 at 12:00 PM
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We're celebrating Niani Feelings, our newest Musical Theater Dance teacher! We are so lucky to have her, as she is currently on a break from the First National Tour of Mean Girls the Musical. We've loved her positive attitude and loving manner in class. You can learn more about her here.

1- What have you enjoyed about being part of the Dance Project Family?

Joining a community of such kind hearted, passionate dancers, faculty and families!

2- What part of New York City do you love most; a favorite NYC spot, favorite thing about NYC, etc?

The view of the GWB from J Hood Wright park.

3- What food reminds you of childhood?

Grilled cheese sandwich

4- What makes you feel better when you’re sad?

A hug from my mom or playing a favorite song.

5- If you were to die and come back as a person or a thing, who or what would it be?

Michael Bennett, so I could create A Chorus Line

6- Who are your heroes in real life – dance-related or otherwise?

Debbie Allen! She has always been a dance idol to me. Someone I can look to and say she looks like me and she does what I want to do with kindness, passion and impeccable style!

(check out Dance Dreams: Hot Chocolate Nutcracker on Netflix to learn more about Debbie Allen!)

7- What do you love about your body?

My smile!

8- When did you first know you wanted to be a dancer?

I took my first dance class when I was 3 and since that day always told anyone who asked that I would be a dancer!

9- What is the most memorable dance you have ever witnessed?

Alvin Ailey’s Revelations

10- Which choreographer and/or dancer, dead or alive, would you love to take a dance lesson from?

Chita Rivera

BONUS QUESTION: Which words of wisdom would you like to offer?

Be kind and work hard. Your kindness and work ethic will never be forgotten.

Get to Know Bekah
November 17, 2020 at 10:50 PM
by Dance Project of Washington Heights
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Today we are Thankful for one of our incredible teachers and our new Early Childhood Program Coordinator, Bekah!

Get to know Bekah:

Bekah has been teaching early childhood creative drama and dance classes for the past three years at Imagination Stage and Joy of Motion Dance Center in Bethesda, Maryland and Washington DC . She has had experience working as a lead teacher, assistant teacher, and inclusion facilitator working with a diverse population of neurotypical and neurodiverse students.

Bekah is passionate about instilling a love of dance, movement, and performance in her students. Her favorite part of teaching is watching her students’ confidence grow throughout the session!

1- What have you enjoyed about being part of the Dance Project Family?

I have enjoyed the sense of community in the Dance Project Family. Our administration has shown time and time again how much they care for the instructors and the families at Dance Project. The Covid Pandemic has highlighted how Dance Project strives to bring dance to everyone and as well as taking care of our students' everyday needs. I'm proud to be part of an organization that prioritizes caring for its people.

2- What part of New York City do you love most; a favorite NYC spot, favorite thing about NYC, etc?

I'm still relatively new to NYC but I love all the parks sprinkled throughout the city. I like finding those moments of calm in the bustling city and appreciate that our parks offer that moment of escape.

3- What food reminds you of childhood?

Tajadas con huevo

4- What makes you feel better when you’re sad?

Calling my family and friends. Family and community is so important to me and I know that when I feel down I can always call on my family and friends to bring a smile to my face. I also like to watch K-Pop music videos and dance along.

5- If you were to die and come back as a person or a thing, who or what would it be?

I would like to come back as a dolphin. I love the ocean and dolphins are my favorite marine animal. I would love to have the opportunity to explore parts of the ocean that are inaccessible to me right now.

6- Who are your heroes in real life – dance-related or otherwise?

Rita Moreno and Lin-Manuel Miranda

7- What do you love about your body?

I love my curly hair! While it took me some time to love my hair, I recognize it now as something that makes me uniquely me and serves as a reminder to never forget my roots.

8- When did you first know you wanted to be a dancer?

I actually quit dancing when I was 8 and by the time I was 10 I was missing it. Once I got back in class, started moving again, and felt that magic of expressing myself through movement, I knew I never wanted to stop dancing.

9- What is the most memorable dance you have ever witnessed?

I remember when "In the Heights" performed at the Tonys in 2008. At the time I had a very narrow view of what dance in musical theatre looked like because all I had been exposed to was the ballet influenced choreography. When I saw the cast of "In the Heights" performing "96000", I was blown away. Not only was I hearing the Latin influenced music that filled my house but I was seeing hip-hop and salsa on a Broadway stage. This performance opened my mind to what dance in a theatre setting could look like and inspired me to explore other styles of dance.

10- Which choreographer and/or dancer, dead or alive, would you love to take a dance lesson from?

I would love to take a dance lesson from Rita Moreno. She inspires me as a dancer and actor and she brings so much life to her movement when she dances.

BONUS QUESTION: Which words of wisdom would you like to offer?

Take three deep breaths and drink water.