What is Dancing Grounds?
Dancing Grounds (DG) is a 501c3 nonprofit organization that builds community through dance with programs that work at the intersection of arts, education, and social justice. We bring inclusive and accessible dance education programs to New Orleans residents of all ages and backgrounds, using dance as a vehicle for developing young leaders, inspiring health and wellness, and promoting social justice.
With youth dance companies, summer camps, and the annual Dance for Social Change Festival, Dancing Grounds create safe and inclusive spaces in which the lived experiences of youth are truly valued and their unique creative talents are recognized, developed, and celebrated. We also host the most comprehensive adult dance programs in the city. Our work is guided by a set of core values: equity, racial justice, integrity, relationships, learning, collaboration, abundance, and joy. DG has become a driving force for arts and education in New Orleans and a hub for the local dance community. Since 2012, we have served over 3,000 youth, 5,000 adults, and countless audience members.
Theory of Change
In 2016, we developed a Theory of Change to articulate our goals, values, and stances. Click HERE to download the full graphic.
Dancing Grounds was founded in March 2012 by Laura Stein and Jessi Donley. The two women shared a common vision for bringing the local dance community together and providing more high-quality, accessible dance programming for the city of New Orleans.
Dancing Grounds incubated in Laura’s Bywater home. She converted her living room into a dance studio, the kitchen into an art gallery, and the backyard into a performance space. Starting with one adult Hip Hop class offered once a week, the “Speakeasy Studio” grew to serve hundreds of people by word of mouth alone. Our "Pop-Up Shows," multidisciplinary arts experiences co-produced with the New Orleans Society of Fly Ladies, and other arts events attracted hundreds of audience members.
Fueled by the high demand for Dancing Grounds’ classes and performances, Dancing Grounds started looking for new space and stumbled upon a guardian angel, a local property developer with a vacant shotgun at 3705 Saint Claude Avenue. Dancing Grounds worked with the owner to build out a state-of-the art dance facility with two dance studios and a performance space that opened in March 2014.
Now with over 20 adult classes per week and Saturday, summer, and school-based youth programs, Dancing Grounds has touched the lives of more than 3,00 young people and 5,000 adults.