In 2012 and solely funded by Director Michael J. Johnson, Kids Dance Outreach (KDO) opened its doors so that Indiana school children in sneakers and street shoes could experience the power of dance. The goal then, as it is now, was to help children see that hard work, discipline, and collaboration can lead to extraordinary achievements in their lives, both on and off the dance floor. Since its creation, KDO has served over 9,000 children of all backgrounds and abilities in Indianapolis through its various programs. KDO is different from a dance school or studio. One of KDO’s most important features is its accessibility. KDO’s core programs are FREE for every child, regardless of ability, economic status, race, or religion. While successfully accomplishing this goal, over the past six years KDO has become a highly regarded, innovative model for dance education, providing equity and access to all in the community. At the root of KDO’s methodology is the belief that the arts have a unique power to engage all children—regardless of background, ability, or socio-economic status—and motivate them toward excellence.
KDO offers its programs to school age children in Indianapolis public and charter schools. These schools are made up of 70.3% minorities, with more than 90% on the free/reduced meal program, 50% boys and 50% girls. The KDO Adaptive Dance Programs reach children with developmental disabilities.
“The KDO Artists and Musicians embody a sense of command that is non-threatening. The greatest benefit to the children is that they all feel like they can do it. They all feel some sort of success, and they are excited about it. They come in with apprehensions, but by the time they leave the first session, they all have a sense that ‘I can do this, and I am good at it’. They all feel like they are good at it, and they need that.”
– Joyce James, 4th Grade Teacher at Carl Wilde Elementary IPS 79
“Kids Dance Outreach provides an unparalleled, high quality, performing arts program through a medium that resonates with today’s youth: dance. Children thrive in the environment created by KDO, an environment where young people have the opportunity to express themselves through the language of dance, a universal language that transcends time, place, and culture. With each class of our students that goes through the workshop, I have the pleasure of seeing incredible changes. KDO boasts high quality instructors, experienced live musicians at every practice, and a curriculum that infuses history and life lessons. KDO also boasts a commitment to equity and access, which is what first drew us to our partnership. The dance course is offered during the school day, as a supplement to core instruction, allowing all students the opportunity to participate free of charge.”
– Andrea Hunley, Principal at Center for Inquiry IPS 2