Performing Ourselves

Performing Ourselves

Performing Ourselves was a dance program based out of Madison, Wisconsin that provided community youth with movement opportunities from 2011 to 2023. The program combined best practice principles from dance education and dance/movement therapy to foster embodiment, connection, and positive self-concept in youth through partnerships with community centers and schools.

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Performing Ourselves is a dance outreach project based in Madison, Wisconsin, that empowers youth and develops leaders through dance. The program teaches a movement-based curriculum to youth in schools and local community centers. Performing Ourselves combines dance education, dance/movement therapy principles, and performance to foster embodiment, resiliency, and positive self-concept in community youth.

Performing Ourselves follows an innovative curriculum. We use movement to build the 7 C’s for Fostering Resilience (Kenneth Ginsburg):

  • Confidence
  • Competence
  • Personal Character
  • Ability to Contribute
  • Sense of Control
  • Coping Skills
  • Connection to each other and surroundings

These building blocks of resiliency empower and equip our participants. Performing Ourselves caters to youth who are 5-14 years old: 90% are children of color, and 95-100% are experiencing poverty.

“Movement activates the neural wiring throughout the body, making the whole body the instrument of learning” – Carla Hannaford, author of Smart Moves: Why Learning is not all In Your Head

Art and movement are an essential and enriching part of youth’s lives. Dance improves motor skills, decision making, creativity, risk-taking cultural understanding, attentiveness, and awareness. Performing Ourselves brings quality dance programming to youth who would typically have difficulty accessing these opportunities.

A 2014 report by the Any Given Child Madison team revealed that 0% of kindergarten through sixth graders, 3% of seventh graders, and 5% of eight graders in the Madison Metropolitan School District were enrolled in a dance course taught by a certified specialist. Entering its seventh year of programming, Performing Ourselves has served hundreds of youth participants, and employed over 20 university students. We have impacted numerous community centers, schools, and after school programs all around the city of Madison. Program teachers have learned valuable skills that they have taken into their lives beyond the university.

Performing Ourselves Numbers

Performing Ourselves engages with undergraduate dance majors to share the joy of creative dance, movement expression, and performance. In the 2018-2019 school year, programming and residencies took place at Orchard Ridge, Leopold, Sandburg, Mendota, and Frank Allis Elementary, as well as Allied Drive, Lussier, Madison Community Montessori School, Elver Park, Goodman, Vera Court Neighborhood, East Madison, Packers/Northport, and Kennedy Heights Community Center.

Performing Ourselves Team

Kate Corby

Position title: Professor and Chair, UW-Madison Dance Department

Mariah LeFeber

Position title: Outreach Specialist

Mary Patterson

Position title: Outreach Specialist