Our Mission

Born Dancing was founded on the belief that people of all ages and abilities should've access to every aspect of dance. Our mission is to produce inclusive professional quality dance performances, and to create dance education programs that provide Students With Disabilities (SWD) in underserved NYC public schools and other High-Needs populations with real-world performance and production experiences, apprenticeships to learn job and social skills, and internships in performing arts production to facilitate employment of people with disabilities.

Born Dancing grew out of director Melissa van Wijk’s extensive experience as both a professional dancer/choreographer and special educator. Following a pilot program in 2014, Born Dancing implemented its first full dance education programs in 2015 at Elementary PS153 and High School PS75X721 in the Bronx. In early 2016, Born Dancing brought together professional dancers, musicians, adults with (physical) disabilities, and SWDs for highly successful inaugural performances at the Alvin Ailey Citigroup Theater.

Born Dancing is a 501(C)(3) tax exempt organization. EIN 13-4168743. We are a NYC Department of Education Vendor. 


Melissa's NYS Teaching Certifications: 

  • Dance K - 12th Grade
  • Theater K - 12th Grade
  • Students With Disabilities 7th - 12th Grade
  • Students With Disabilities Birth - 2nd Grade
  • Early Childhood

Melissa van Wijk, M.A. was born and raised in The Netherlands where she attended Dansakademie Brabant. She holds five NYS Teaching Certifications and has taught dance at NYC Public Schools in all 5 boroughs, working primarily in Special Education. She has a Master’s degree in Dance Education from NYU and will complete her second Master’s degree in Education in the near future. Melissa has choreographed performances at The Cunningham Studio and Mulberry Street Theater among others. Previously Melissa worked as a Teaching Artist for New York City Ballet and Young Audiences. On the side she runs a small business, Signing Up LLC, teaches Baby Sign Language, and has produced several children's DVD’s and Videos.