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Community Spotlight: CityDance

CityDance has provided a variety of dance-related opportunities since 1996. The nonprofit trains dancers for professional careers, but it also offers recreational dance programs through summer sessions and a dance and fitness studio. Through their IGNITE program, trained instructors help aspiring choreographers create and present their work. 

The CityDance DREAM after-school program uses dance to guide youth to academic and family success. It is a tuition-free program that follows students from 3rd grade through high school, providing support for their educational endeavors, preparing them for college, and providing family services. This award-winning program is nationally recognized. This month, we spoke to CityDance President and CEO Alexe Nowakowski to find out how dance creates success for so many youth in our area.

What types of summer camps do you have this year? Who can register for them?

CityDance offers camps and intensives for each of its programs throughout DC and Maryland.

CityDance DREAM’s 3rd through 5th grade students kickstarted the summer with a dance camp that ended with a showing for staff, family and friends. Middle and high school students then participated in 4 weeks of intensive training with DREAM faculty and guest artists. This summer's guest artists included Step Afrika! contemporary ballet dancer Amber Merrick, modern dancer Earl Mosely, Afro-Beats teacher Kara Wade and hip-hop dancers Teren Dickson, Sisley Loubet and Marcia Smith. 

The DREAM program is audition-based.

At the CityDance School and Conservatory in Rockville, MD CityDance held intensives throughout the summer led by directors and artists from Dance Theater of Harlem, Koresh Dance, YYDance, Bruce Wood Dance and CityDance faculty. Students participated in an exploration of classical and contemporary training with daily classes in ballet, pointe, pas de deux, modern, contemporary, jazz, and African that culminated in an end of intensive performance. 

These intensives were audition-based.

CityDance POP! in Tenleytown, DC and CityDance School in Bethesda, MD held themed summer camps for ages 4-14.

These camps were open enrollment, no audition.

What types of classes do you offer at the dance and fitness studio?

 CityDance POP! offers Creative Movement, Ballet, Jazz, Modern, Hip Hop, Break Dancing, Contemporary, Tap and more! You can see the full schedule here. CityDance POP! is holding an Open House Aug 25th for anyone interested in sampling a class!

How do you choose who your IGNITE program supports?

 The CityDance Ignite program seeks out rising choreographic stars and provides them the resources and support needed to create and present new work. The artists are chosen based off their commitment to present work in DC with local dancers, their past works and their works in progress.

How do people enter the CityDance School and Conservatory?

The CityDance School and Conservatory offers a well-rounded curriculum of Vaganova ballet training and contemporary dance techniques rounded out by jazz, hip-hop and world dance forms for ages 3 to 19. For ages 3-7 students can register online for classes here. For ages 7 and above, an audition is required that can be scheduled by emailing Cristina Vasilis at

How do you choose who enters the DREAM program?

DREAM provides a comprehensive tuition-free dance program integrated with wrap-around academic, college prep, and family services for D.C. students from low-income neighborhoods. The program addresses the needs of the whole child through a 10-year journey (grades 3-12). Students in grades 3-11 who live in Washington, DC can audition into the DREAM program, and are chosen based off of dedication, family commitment to the program, passion and drive.

What sort of academic services do you provide as part of the DREAM program?

Early support is given to each student in the CityDance DREAM program, building the skills necessary to become academically competitive for the college application process. Beginning in 6th grade, students are required to turn in their report cards. Any student with a GPA under 2.5 is required to take individual, on-site tutoring. The DREAM faculty provides on-site homework help, academic subject-based tutoring, parental engagement through regular academic success checklists and individual contracts with students and their families, on-site computers needed to complete homework assignments and college application materials and community service projects to ensure compliance with DCPS. 

How does DREAM help remove barriers to college access?

DREAM students begin college readiness in 8th grade, which includes: college tours, workshops to prepare youth to enter high school with a plan for meeting college requirements, SAT and ACT workshops, monthly Junior/Senior class meetings, and individual college application counseling including career assessment, essay-writing, and financial aid planning. The DREAM staff works closely with each student to develop an individual college plan.

How can D.C. residents help support CityDance?

D.C. residents can donate to CityDance programs here.

The community can also support CityDance by attending the CityDance DREAM Gala which benefits CityDance DREAM. It brings together performers from all over the country in a mashup of all genres of dance, everything from ballet, to tap, to hip-hop. The tickets range from $25 to sponsorships starting at $250. The annual gala takes place at the Lincoln Theatre at the beginning of May. Find out more here.