A Time for Thanks

This is a time a year everyone begins to reflect on friends and family.  A time of sharing our changes and comforts along with seeing some of our favorite smiling faces.  That is how it is for me with the friends who participate in and attend the UDMA shows each October in

UDMA 2015

UDMA 2015

Atlanta, NJ and Chicago.  For many including myself it is a time of up building when vendors, dance teachers and studio owners alike get the opportunity to share their stories and experiences with each other.

Of course the highlight for me is to touch base with all those who have taken their time and energy to support NDWF and its many programs.  I want to especially thank those who were the motivating forces and inspiring their students to take the lead in our anti-bullying Kick for Kindness campaign and to take a stand, by wearing the red bracelets, signing our posters and creating videos.  Bullying is so widespread today and effects so many it is important to take the lead against it and I am proud to say many dancers have.

National Dance Week for 2016 will be April 22-May 1st and many are already making plans.  Many of last year’s ambassadors are signing up again and getting busy.  It was so much fun to see all the dance mob videos from 2015 and I was touched by all the essays and posters from our younger dancers.  This year in 2016 we will even have Princess Plie

Princess Plie'

Princess Plie’

choreographing a special dance mob for preschoolers.

A special thanks to those who worked tirelessly in our National Dance Week Foundation’s booths – Catherine Chu, Mary Dressendofer,  Nicole Tidermann and one of our board members Donna Mueller along with her staff.  I look forward to seeing all of you next year along with meeting some new friends in Boston.

Atlanta 2015

Atlanta 2015

Chicago 2015

Chicago 2015

Cathy Graziano

Executive Director


Empowering Action – Cyberbullying in 2015 by Jessica Starr

Last year, my LA based non-profit dance company MusEffect, inspired audiences to educate themselves during MusEffect PSA #2Cyberbullying Awareness Month.  It was through our unique vehicle of raising social awareness addressing a painful topic that is all too familiar in our society that caught people’s attention worldwide.  MusEffect’s Public Service Announcement, 953K – Inspiring Action Against Cyberbullying generated over 1.2 million views and countless inspirational stories of healing and resolution from audiences across the globe.

I attribute the rampant success of this particular PSA to the void of comprehension in our society of this subject matter.  There is a severe lack of compassion for cyberbullying due to the issue being specific to the younger generation. Therefore, it is often disregarded and not understood by the teachers, parents and mentors of the world.

“Cyber”bullying did not exist years ago.  If you wanted to bully someone, you would do it right to their face.  Call them names, shove them in a locker but at least the bully had to see you face to face.  Now anyone can bully anonymously, sit behind a screen and torment others, never having to look their victims in the eyes.

After seeing the outpour of stories that the MusEffect PSA provoked last year, I knew it was a subject that needed further exploration in our society.  Typically our method with our PSAs was simply to raise awareness, but I knew this topic needed more. There is no simple solution for a tragic trend like cyberbullying but as a culture we are not helping by only mourning the tragedy after it has already happened and playing victim to something so horrific.  Instead we need to get fired up and recognized that the peak of the solution begins with finding a proactive method of stopping it, before it even starts.

Being around so many incredible young dancers day in and day out that obtain near “instafamous” statuses, I began to realize that the start to a solution lies in perspective.  I knew we could make an impactful difference by empowering these social media leaders of the next generation to stand up and make a change themselves simply by using social media for good, rather than taking more selfies and requesting more TBH (to be honest) affirmations.  No matter how much I personally try to improve the problem, it is not my peers that are initiating the cycle, but the generations below me.  I realize it is vital that we remind this younger Z generation on a daily basis, how much power and influence they have within their peer group.  It is even more important that we teach them to USE it to make a much-needed social change.   Giving these young artists the tools and confidence to lead their generation into a time where positivity and encouragement online is cooler than bullying is the ultimate goal.

This past Summer, our 2015 Mini Musers were a prime group to test this theory out on, and boy did they prove this theory right.  These young artists soared when they were given the chance to be heard.  With the right amount of encouragement, these youth advocates showed an impressive amount of intellect and compassion for the topic and jumped in head first to create change by using their social media to affirm and inspire one another towards confidence and strength.  It only takes one, one adult, one mentor, one word of encouragement to the right person at the right time, to begin this social shift that is needed now more than ever.



MusEffect is committed to not only raising social awareness to such causes like cyberbullying but believes it is important to take a hands on approach to initiating change.  Speaking about it is often not enough, but getting up and taking action makes all the difference in the world.


Jessica Starr
Muse Dance Company | MusEffect
901 N. Fairfax Ave.

PMB #224

Jessica Starr

Jessica Starr

Los Angeles, CA 90046

Cat London – The Right Way

Kick for Kindness Anti Bullying campaign is honored and proud to introduce Cat London the creator of the song The Right Way which was the inspiration of the dance video of the same name.  NDWF posted the video on Saturday October 24th and it is included here again today. 

Here is her story –

#TheRightWay is a bullying awareness and kindness campaign that grew out of my song, “The Right Way.” The duet features two young people struggling with acceptance, empathy, and bullying. The song makes us recognize that we are the same, we feel the same pain, but we might not realize it. The Right Thing 1

Some backstory: My producer, Rich Aveo, and I decided to bring “The Right Way” into studio November 2014. Vince Inciong, music teacher at Middlesex High School in NJ, brought “The Right Way” into his classroom. My creative team saw an opportunity to finally create the campaign we had always envisioned to propel our message of kindness. The campaign video is comprised of his students’ opinions on what it means to treat others the right way. Vince and Rich spearheaded the production of #TheRightWay, and it caught the attention of news anchor Della Crews of News12 NJ, who invited us to interview on one of her segments!

Our newest extension of #TheRightWay is our music video directed by Ian J. Keeney and choreographed and performed by Danielle Nicolosi and Erica Russo from L.A. Dance in Lincroft, NJ. It’s absolutely stunning and I’m so proud of my team. The concept of expressing the song through lyrical dance was suggestion by Michele Montesano. I fell in love with the possibility. L.A. Dance took the suggestion and ran…well, danced. The dancers and I met only a handful of times to talk motivation and vision before they had a completely choreographed lyrical ready for filming. I am absolutely humbled by the talent, the energy, and the devotion of this creative team.

So join us! We’re increasing awareness that we, as humans and peers, can achieve more through compassion, understanding, and willingness to dissolve barriers that perpetuate anger, hatred, and bullying.



A free download of The Right Way is available on NoiseTrade.com. We hope to bring #TheRightWay into interested schools to further our message of kindness. Please spread the love.


Kick for Kindness Opportunities By: Joyce Pennington and Brittany Dolotina, American Dance/Drill Team

Its that time of year again!  The National Dance Week Foundation is proud to sponsor the Kick for Kindness Anti-Bullying Campaign in October and November, where dancers are encouraged to take the lead in standing up against bullying.  We hope that you will join this movement, and plan a special performance to get your dancers involved in the fight against bullying.

American Dance/Drill Team has partnered with the National Dance Week Foundation to offer several great performance opportunities that support the Kick for Kindness campaign.   Join us on October 18th for a feature pre-game performance at the San Antonio Spurs game, or on October 31st for a feature pre-game performance at the Dallas Star game! Both events will be a great way for your dancers to take a stand and raise awareness against bullying.  For more information about these events or to register online, visit http://danceadts.com/specialevents.htm.  There are many other ways for you and your dancers to get involved in this great campaign for October.  Make

San Antonio Spurs - "Day of Dance"

San Antonio Spurs – “Day of Dance”

your plans today and be sure to share your pictures by emailing kickit@nationaldanceweek.org and posting your videos on YouTube and share the link with us!

Dallas Stars Dance Spooktacular

Dallas Stars Dance Spooktacular

Kick for Kindness

Coast 2 Coast Supports National Dance Week

C2C 1

Mr. Louie speaking to CK Dance Theatre Dancers in Mississippi

Hello from “Coast 2 Coast: Dance Across America!” We’re a Not-for-Profit dance organization that travels the country each year during National Dance The C2C Crew consists of Choreographer Louie Perez, Executive Director and Tour DJ Jimmy Lyles, and Illusionist Ryan Dutcher. We set out on this mission to motivate and teach everyone we meet to “Never Give Up

C2C 2

Hannah Berry Grand Prize $1000 Scholarship presentation

The reason we started this is because of a boy’s love for dance and his determination to never give up on his dream. When our choreographer, Mr. Louie Perez, emigrated from Cuba to America at the age of 10, life was hard for his family. There came a time when he could no longer afford dance lessons, but his first dance teacher, Patsy Metzger, saw his passion for the arts. She allowed him to mop the floors at Debbie Reynolds Studio in North Hollywood, CA as payment for dance class– and the rest is history! Louie set out on this journey to “pay-it-forward” through his passion of dance and is making headlines across the country with the “Coast 2 Coast: Dance Across America” Tour!

When you think of New York… what’s the first thing that comes to mind? Of course many will say New York City, but there are approximately 55,000 square miles in the State of New York. We live about an hour from Times Square, so all three of the Coast 2 Coast Crew members have been heavily influenced by the greatest theater district in the world! Going from “Big City America” to “Small Town U.S.A.,” we get the opportunity to see the diversity of America. Although we have many states and studios to visit within National Dance Week—when we do have a few minutes of time, we try to take in some local landmarks. We’ve walked through the gates of Graceland in Memphis and we’ve seen the beautiful Rocky Mountains of Montana. We got the chance to dance in the Four Corners of Colorado, Utah, Arizona, and New Mexico—we’ve “Viva’d” in Las Vegas and danced in North Hollywood in the same studio that Michael Jackson’s Thriller was choreographed in! We found out there was more than corn in Indiana and not only potatoes in Idaho. We got to be in Louisville for the Kentucky Derby and even stopped by that famous “Dance Moms” studio in Pittsburgh—not to mention we’ve only been at it for two years! Just like most of the country thinks New York is one big city, each and every state from “Coast 2 Coast” has something special to offer! But one thing that we all love and can agree on about getting to tour the country each year is the differences between not only the landscape of the country, but the people that you meet.

C2C 3

125 participants from Miss Lori’s Dance Express in Michigan


Everybody has a story to tell, but you don’t always get to hear about it. Before each class we give our backstories; we’re three guys from three different backgrounds and are living proof that you can overcome any obstacle that’s in your path. Not only does this tour promote the health and fitness side of dance, but it also encompasses the ideals of persistence, perseverance, passion, and positivity. The tour proves that ordinary people can achieve extraordinary things and students learn that no dream is too large or small—you can do absolutely anything you set your mind to, as long as you work hard.

What makes us unique is that participation is free of charge to students and studios nationwide and we actually get to visit, motivate, and teach at different locations across the country. This makes students more comfortable in their home studio and it also brings the opportunity to those who may not have the means to attend an additional workshop. We feel very honored to be asked to be a guest blogger for the National Dance Week Foundation If you would like to participate or are interested in seeing more of what we do during National Dance Week, please visit us online at: www.Coast2CoastDance.org, follow us on Instagram: @Coast2CoastDance and www.Facebook.com/Coast2CoastDance!  You can also view our official 2015 Tour Video https://youtu.be/sFPx4PTAWrw.

Please feel free to visit our website: www.Coast2CoastDance.org to find out more about where we have been and what we do! We provide a one hour Master Class free of charge to students and studios nationwide, all in celebration of dance and National Dance Week. Not only do we get to visit with thousands of dancers, we’re also able to award dance scholarships to keep kids dancing at their home studios throughout the country. We’re very happy to announce that our 2015 Scholarships were awarded to Hannah Berry from Miss Lori’s Dance Express in Michigan ($1000), Kallisty Adkins from Dance Attitudes in Wisconsin ($500), and Aubrie Connelly from Kathy Blake Dance Studios in New Hampshire ($250).



It’s Officially Summer by Cathy Graziano NDWF Executive Director

Summer has officially begun and it is time to recharge and relax.  Summertime for most dancers means the recitals are over and dance semesters have ended, it also is the closing of another successful National Dance Week Foundation year.  I personally along with all our board members want to say thank you for all your hard work, especially to our hard working NDWF Representatives.

NDWF’s year runs from July 1st to June 30th.  So we begin our year with our Algy sponsored anti bullying Kick for Kindness campaign in October and round out with our celebration of Nation Dance Week at the end of April.

The Kick for Kindness was a call to action for dancers of all ages to take the lead and “kick”  bullying.The support was expressed in kickline performances, banners created and

Carter Dance Company - Houston Texas

Carter Dance Company – Houston Texas

posted, proclamations signed and wonderful expressive dances.  We are looking for even more support and a greater response for 2015.


National Dance Week was action packed with our dance mob, essay and poster contests.  DanceSpirit.com also posted our essay winner – thank you Dance Media. The 2016 date is April 22-May 1st – so start making plans to join in the fun.  Take the plunge and become a leader in your area as an official National Dance Week Foundation.  Join today! http://www.nationaldanceweek.org/representatives/

Bemus Point Elementary School

Bemus Point Elementary School



The Power of Dance

Fun, beautiful and powerful.  Read about the Power of Dance and Hire A Dancer.


Dance is in the air! by Joyce Pennington NDWF Board Member and owner American Dance/Drill Team

Spring is in the air!  Yes, leaps, turns, high kicks, glitzy costumes, dynamic confetti cannons are lighting up the stages around the country as dance teams are presenting their Spring Shows and studios are preparing for the Recitals.  It is a time of year where the dancers will have the chance to present a series of performances that culminate the entire year Joyce - May 2015and show the results of 12 months of hard work.  It is so refreshing to see so many parents, family and friends turn out for these shows in support of their dancers.  Through the past few decades, the shows have all taken on a more dynamic presentation with professional lighting, special effects, creative staging and props, themed shows and exciting finalé

Apache Belles

Apache Belles

performances that will bring the crowd to their feet.

It is also a review of the most exciting costumes in the industry.  Color, glitter, and innovative designs fill the stage with excitement and add so much to the performance.  The dance wear industry is constantly striving to stay ahead of the game with costumes that have that ‘Wow Factor.’
Congratulations to all the dancers that are performing their last performance of the school year and may your show bring back all the great memories of an exciting season of dance.  “Break a leg!”

Whitehouse High School

Whitehouse High School


Dance Mom by Anneliese Wilson NDWF Vice Chair Board Member and owner of ABC for Dance

My mother was a professional dancer and I always swore I wouldn’t be following in her footsteps, funny how things change from when you were 8.  One year I remember asking to take dance with all of my friends at the local studio and being told “No, but I’ll drive your friends to Studio X so they can take class with you”.  Another year I remember finding it extremely difficult and asking to quit and being told that I could quit, but not

My mother as an aspiring dancer

My mother as an aspiring dancer

until after the end of the term.  And then there was the painting the reception desk with white out incident that ensured I was never stuck sitting in the lobby again but instead, was safely in class and out of trouble whenever I was at the studio.  Not the most auspicious beginnings for a what has turned into a 30+ career in the dance industry for me.

Through it all my mother brought me to class, taught me to sew my shoes and put my hair into a bun, listened to my vents when casting lists went up, suggested new teachers to work on different aspects of my dancing and supported my dreams and goals.  When I opened my studio, she was my biggest supporter and even taught for me.  She was a sounding board and the person I could brag, cry and vent to – often in the same conversation.  We also had the common mother / daughter relationship where we loved each other unconditionally, but managed to push each other’s buttons without having to try.


I realized one day that I had never properly thanked her for taking the hard road and being the mom, even with the pre-teen and teenage me told her I hated her, so I did it publicly by dedicating one of my training manuals that was on a subject dear to her heart to her.  The timing was prophetic, she passed away suddenly a couple of months after that manual was published.  I was glad she had seen the dedication and we had a chance to discuss it and she realized that I had grown to appreciate everything she did for me.  While I miss her and think of her every day, I’m fortunate that my mother in law is also a former professional dancer and I can call her and share my dance studio stories with her.

hen I had my studio and as a teacher, I’ve had the privilege of meeting and learning from hundreds of amazing dance moms.  As with anything, we might not always agree, but I respect the love, dedication and sacrifices I see them making for their children.  I appreciate the moms who step up and act like moms, even when their child is having a tantrum in the waiting room because they were told no.  I love the moms who realize that I’m not just trying to teach their child to dance, but to think, act respectfully, develop teamwork and learn about themselves, their bodies and the art of dance.  I’ve now been in this business long enough that I have a special new breed of dance moms, my former students who now are having children of their own, spread all over the country.  Some of their children might dance, some might not, but from the pictures and posts I follow on social media, I can see that my students remember a lot of those non dancing skills they were taught in the studio and are passing them on to their children.

Happy Mother’s Day to all of the amazing dance moms in the world.

mom2 Anneliese



National Dance Week…..April 24 – May 3 2015.  It is my pleasure especially at times like this to be the Executive Director of such a wonderful and positive non-profit foundation.   Thank to all who have spent time, energy, and effort to get as many as possible to “Celebrate Dance and Promote Fun Fitness” .

NDWF’s mission statement is To Expose and introduce as many people as possible to the enjoyment and benefits of dance thru promoting dance in schools, expanding community awareness, and increasing professional development.”  This is accomplished thru many facets that everyone can get involved in. Pick one or two or all then – have fun and get others to join in.

National Dance Week – a nationwide 10 day celebration with events encompassing all forms of dance to all groups of people.  http://nationaldanceweek.org/ndw/ndw

Dance Mob – (during NDW) Dancers and non-dancers alike share the joy of dance together. http://nationaldanceweek.org/dance-mob/main/

Essay/Poster Contest – (during NDW) Avenue for those to express what dance means to them thru words and art. http://nationaldanceweek.org/ndw/essay-poster/

Kick for Kindness Anti Bully Campaign – (October – November) Dance kick line or dance related events to rally everyone and get others involved to take a stand against bullying. http://nationaldanceweek.org/k4k/main/

Representatives – Volunteers who bring awareness of NDWF on a regional level. http://nationaldanceweek.org/representatives/

Dance Power – Competitions giving an award to those whose lives have been enhanced by dance. http://nationaldanceweek.org/dance-power/competition/

Whatever you do share your fun and send us your pictures and videos.

Cathy Graziano

Executive Director

National Dance Week Foundation




NDWF logo