Our Mission

Born Dancing is founded on the belief that people of all ages and abilities should have access to every aspect of dance. We produce original, inclusive dance performances that feature performers with and without disabilities and we create dance education programs for under-served Students With Disabilities and High-Needs Students in New York City. Our performances and dance education programs provide Students With Disabilities and High-Needs Students with real-world dance performance and production experiences, apprenticeships to learn job and social skills, and internships in performing arts production and related fields. Our overarching goal is to facilitate the employment of people with disabilities in performing arts production.

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. 

our vision

A world in which there are no barriers to participation in dance performance, production, and education to anyone

our values

  • We value all our students' and professionals’ input in presenting productions that provoke thought about who and what makes a dancer.
  • We value project-based intensive small-group and one-on-one collaborations between professionals and non-professionals that build long-term relationships.
  • We value the confidence, empowerment, and self-awareness children and adolescents develop through creating, performing, and producing dance.
  • We value the social, communication, job-readiness, and leadership skills children and adolescents develop through apprenticeships with and mentoring by performing arts professionals.
  • We value lifelong learners who better their school, art, and larger communities.