This blog post brings me such great joy and excitement as I sit in my office about to share the importance of communal support and engagement thru the art of dance.
I am Kathy Costa McKeown, the owner and artistic director of DanceWorks Studios in Montclair, NJ currently in our 22nd Season of Dance.
When I embarked upon my journey to open my dance studio I vowed that EVERY child should have the opportunity to dance regardless of shape, size , color, economic statue, gender, or any other difference we may have. "DANCE FOR ALL”, this is what truly motivates me daily as I unlock the door to 127 Grove Street. It has truly been a blessing in my life daily to share my art with children as they begin to learn and explore what their magnificent bodies are capable of as a soloist as well as an ensemble dancer. Let's go… let's move…let's find joy, restoration, friendships, healing , support all while dancing.
I have a teen touring Dance Company which is selected by audition only, and we have had the many fabulous opportunities to perform locally as well as globally. I believe strongly in FREE Community outreach at every level. Therefore, my dancers are required to attend the many performance opportunities provided for them throughout our communities. We perform annually in local retirement homes, rehabilitation centers, Hospitals, Colleges, Art Festivals, senior citizen homes, religious organizations of all denominations, Art Museums, local outdoor festivals both Dance oriented and community-based World stages such as Lincoln Center, Carnegie Hall, London, Barcelona, Spain, Italy and up next Greece. My teen touring company knows the importance of reaching out to our community and sharing our love of dance for all to enjoy.
I believe wholeheartedly that dance has the ability to connect us all, on some internal and healing level that Unites us and brings both tears and smiles to one face. How beautiful is that ! I believe every studio has the ability to put themselves out into their communities and connect with others by bringing the art of dance to them. Yes, it's a commitment that does not pay financially but the rewards are something I can honestly say are so deeply rooted in my heart, mind, body, and soul - not to mention the immense profound experience it provides for my teen dancers who often leave with tears of joy streaming down their angelic faces. Aren’t these some of the important life lessons, our responsibilities as dance educators we should be providing for our dancers. Important life skills while having the opportunity to share their passion with others. It's a Win Win for all.
While local community outreach is so important to me and my dancers, Global dance outreach is vital to my existence as a dance educator. This has been my drive , determination, passion and love of why I continue to teach dance locally and globally. I have had the incredible opportunities of taking Dance to Ghana, Africa, Capetown, South Africa, and Beirut, Lebanon at the Syrian refugee camps in Lebanon.
My first journey to Ghana was so beautiful and spirit-led. I truly believe I was planted there to not only teach dance but for me to personally see the positive effect it truly has on bringing pure joy and hope to the many less fortunate. The seed was planted and I knew instantly that this was something no matter the cost or time that I needed to pursue. As opportunities arose for me to travel at my own expense to these incredible places with the most loving, grateful, sweet, energetic, beautiful children I knew that I had to make it happen.
One might ask , how did these opportunities arise? Honestly, Ghana arose from my church's mission trip, where I boldly stood up and asked can I go and work with children and teach dance? I knew one might think I was crazy asking, buy hey you never know until you ask. So courageously I asked, that was the start of something beautiful. Both South Africa and Lebanon were inspired from my son's work which he was doing at the time in these two countries. I was teaching dance at a Free Children's Hospital, a township and pre-professional studio all in Cape town South Africa. A very beautiful experience. My most recent global experience led me to Beirut, Lebanon where I had the most beautiful, moving spirit led dance teaching moments thus far in my career. To be placed in a refugee camp with such warm, open hearted, loving children moved me to tears. To speak of this brings me immense joy and keeps the fire burning inside of my soul to keep dancing and sharing my love with ALL near and far.
It is very clear to me the importance dance has both locally and globally within our communities to openly share. I am not sure where I will end up next but I know for sure my answer is YES and I will believe the funds will show up to make it happen. I wish all of my dance educators much love, light, support and creativity as you continue to educate and inspire our youth thru the art of Dance.