Mission and History

Our Mission

To teach the art of dance to all, inspiring creativity, curiosity, and confidence.

Dance is a joyful, transforming experience for all ages, abilities and circumstances.  It speaks to the spirit and invites exploration and purpose.  The Dance Foundation, a non-profit located in downtown Homewood, has been engaging the Birmingham community through dance since 1975.  The Dance Foundation’s unique approach to teaching inspires imaginative learning in young dancers and cultivates technique and artistry as they mature.  Live music is an essential element to the experience for young children.

Almost 900 students, age one to adult, participate in The Dance Foundation’s studio classes  and summer camps.  Each studio has two-way glass that allows for parents to witness their child’s growth and discovery.  Financial assistance is generously provided through community support to more than a dozen students in need each year.  Through the Community Partnership Program, The Dance Foundation teaches an additional 1,000+ children each week at dozens of social service agencies, child care centers and schools throughout Birmingham.  These children are very young, have special needs or are living in poverty.  This program is generously supported by government, corporations, foundations and individuals.  The Dance Foundation’s studio space and 100-seat theatre are also home to dozens of artists and arts organizations for classes, workshops, rehearsals and performances.

Our programs include:

Community Partnership Program
Studio Use for community artists and organizations
Dance classes for all ages
Summer Camps
Service to the field of Dance

Our History

Children’s Dance Foundation, now The Dance Foundation, began in the early 1970’s as an idea for teaching dance with young children and children with disabilities, with the belief that dance was a foundation for learning for all children, regardless of ability or income or race.

This idea bubbled up in a dynamic environment in Birmingham – social justice was at the center of much work in the community, modern dance was finding its dancers and audience, and early childhood education was exploring how to teach the ‘whole’ child.

Three insightful, creative and formidable women —  Jennie Robertson, Virginia Samford, and Mary Conyers Cooper –responded to these forces with a fresh approach to teaching dance with young children, anchored in the understanding of child development.  Live music was essential to the experience, enriching the developmental benefits in addition to the pure joy of dancing with live music.

In 1975, the work began in earnest.  They crafted a creative movement curriculum, Movement – to – Music, which continues now.  What followed was classes taught at the Birmingham Housing Development day cares, Alabama Institute for the Deaf and Blind, Jewish Community Center, and with variety of additional community partners.

Today, The Dance Foundation remains true to the ideas of our beginnings – dance is an inspiring, fun and beneficial experience for students of all ages, abilities and circumstances.  Inclusion, diversity, connection and generosity are at the root of our mission.  We confirm that commitment and work towards all corners of our community dancing with us, and work to expand the idea of what dance is and who is a dancer.

“Dance is a celebration of life,
a widening of horizons, an exercise in communication,
an exploration into self-awareness.
Through this discipline all the arts come into focus.
Let us journey together.”

– Jennie Robertson, Founder

jennyrobertsonMaryCooperVirginiaSamfordDonovon
Jennie RobertsonMary Conyers CooperVirginia Samford Donovon
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