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2010 Top-Rated Nonprofit

West Chester Dance Works

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Nonprofit Overview

Causes: Arts & Culture, Arts Services, Children & Youth, Dance, Performing Arts Schools, Youth Development Programs

Target demographics: enrich our community

Programs: School programs that encourage our youth, community performances that engage patrons of all ages, Performances at the location of shut-ins and others with limited opportunities.

Community Stories

15 Stories from Volunteers, Donors & Supporters

8

Volunteer

Rating: 5

West Chester Dance Works instills in its dancers the lesson that hard work and dedication bears fruit. Under the guidance of Diane Matthews and Candace Matthews-Bass, all dancers are cultivated to bring out their best and as much effort is spent developing a camaraderie among company members as is the art of dance. My daughter was initially accepted into the DM Dance Machine as an apprentice, and after two years of hard work has earned a spot as a full performing member. Whether a dancer is an apprentice, an alternate or full performing member, all members are treated with the same respect and consideration. I am very proud that my daughter is a dancer with West Chester Dance Works.

9

Former staff

Rating: 5

This group has a warm and caring spirit that lifts every venue it performs at. I've been a member and been a spectator and the way these performers just revive and light up places is truly remarkable and I am blessed to have been apart of it.

8

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Being a part of such an awesome dance company that has the vision to share dance with a broad range of indivduals has been very rewarding. When hearing the audience responses after a production you see how they have been touched or moved by what was shared and communicated through dance. Additionally, I have grown as a person by particiating and giving to the community as a dancer in the productions.

9

Volunteer

Rating: 5

It was a privilege to be part of West Chester Dance Works "Rachel Harris: One Woman Over the Line production." I assisted in historical research and gave a short historical overview for the preview performance at CCHS. Watching the dance company bring to life the story of Rachel Harris from 1839 was a moving experience. The human dignity of Rachel came to life as danced by Candace Matthews Bass. We see Rachel Harris in her decisive moment - claiming freedom as her own - only to discover that the community is willing to help her succeed. In this dance company I see a supportive community, whose artistic work has the power to reach out to touch audiences with something that can not be expressed in words.

8

Former staff

Rating: 5

I had the pleasure of training and performing with West Chester Dance Works for over twenty years. During that tenure I experienced what hard work, dedication, perserverance it takes to build such a professional company. We were able to share the "Art of Dance" through our community service. It is my hope and vision that the opportunities and dance education will continue with many future generations of West Chester Dance Works.

6

Client Served

Rating: 5

My daughter came to West Chester Dance works when she was 9yrs old.She has grown up living and breathing dance. She has become a caring, considerate yet very intense person. She has become part of a family at WCDW. They have shown her that through dance she can touch people in many ways. They have also shown her that through serious committment and dedication that she can do whatever she sets her mind to. I thank them for their care and nurturing my daughter into becoming who she is today and helping to mold her into the wonderful woman she will be in the future.

4

Client Served

Rating: 5

I have had the privilege to be a supporter and client of West Chester Dance Works over the past 5 years. My daughters have been the recipients of dance scholarships which have provided full tuition for multiple classes. Dance has made my daughters grounded and given them the foundation to be servants in our community and excellent students. Their most recent production Rachel Harris is inspiring and shows the conditioning and passion of WCDW dancers. I applaud this organization for seeing the needs of the community it serves and for giving my family the opportunity to grow with West Chester Dance Works.

4

Client Served

Rating: 5

When I joined WCDW there were only two companies, Senior and Junior Companies. As a nine year old, I looked up to the young women and girls. Why? They were elegant, fierce, and looked like they were experiencing something special. That something special was not just dance, but something much greater. WCDW nurtures the soul, boosts the mind, and challenges the body but never forgets the value of community.

6

Client Served

Rating: 5

I can't even begin to put into words how much this organization has been beneficial to my life. I have been apart of dance works for about 8 years now and I have been blessed abundantly through this program. Its one thing to want to be just a better dancer in general but to be a better person is the greater goal. Through dancing all throughout various communities, and seizing many different volunteering opportunities I have indeed became a better person. A person who loves to volunteer, and has learned the principles of responsibility, respect, and dedication. It has truly been awesome experience and I wouldn't choose to have it any other way than West Chester Dance Works.

10

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

I am priviledged to be an original member of West Chester Dance Works from 1983(!)and still support its mission and vision for the Greater West Chester and Philadelphia areas. The various performing groups are committed to outreach and do many productions and performances for the community it serves, not just to have a year-end recital. I have enjoyed watching the younger dancers grow up to be good citizens while receiving quality training in a caring atmoshphere. I attend the studio's annual previews and concerts, and it makes me proud to see the growth and depth of the dancers. WCDW has a distinctive focus. Its newest full-scale production, "Rachel Harris: One Woman Over the Line" is an important story told beautifully through dance, and it needs to be spread more widely! WCDW shares the love of dance with all who see them!

4

Volunteer

Rating: 5

In 2007 I was asked to participate in the development of a dance program by the West Chester Dance Works. Director Diane Matthews envisioned telling the story of former slave Rachel Harris through dance. My responsibilities included researching and writing the narrative to accompany the nine dances. From early stages of development through performances, I was impressed with the creative talents and dedication of the entire dance company. The dances have been performed in the community, at colleges and high schools. The West Chester Dance Works has earned praise and recognition and well deserves continued support in their efforts to enrich and expand the horizons within our community through dance.

7

Client Served

Rating: 5

I have been a member of West Chester Dance Works for about 6 or 7 years now and it has changed my life in so many ways. Being a part of an organization like this has shown me how important dance really is to my life. The focus is not placed on just being the perfect dancer with amazing technique but also on the importance of just letting yourself dance because you love to do it. If there is one thing that stood out to me the most it is how much they helped me discover that dance is what I love to do. They help you to break free and teach you to not think about what others think of you and to just DANCE. The teachers are so supportive and work hard to make sure that not only are you performing on stage but that you bring that energy into the classroom and rehearsals. The bond between all of the companies is also a unique feature, because we all see each other as family and we would do anything for each other. I appreciate everything that WCDW has offered to me over the years, and I can't thank them enough for helping me to grow and continue growing as I learn to become the best dancer I can be.

10

Volunteer

Rating: 5

My daughter is all grown up now but years ago she came to me and asked me to find her a place to dance. Little did I know when I signed her up for dance lessons at West Chester Dance Works that she was going to gain so much more than learning dance techniques. They taught her to reach out to her community, they taught her to care for the elderly, for those less fortunate, they taught her dicipline and patience, and the ability to work as a team. WCDW works taught me that when I walked into that studio so many years ago, it was a very good decision. She became a dancer, but in the process she also made lifelong friends. This studio provided my daughter and countless other boys and girls the chance to explore their creativity through dance while giving them an important foundation for the future.

11

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

I have been involved with West Chester Dance Works for over 25 years. WCDW is made up of 4 age-based companies, Junior Performers, DM Dance Machine, Annointed Dance, and Training & Signature Company. All share the mission to serve and enrich our local communities providing the joy of dance! Every year WCDW performs a seasonal program at local retirement communities, nursing homes, churches and senior centers. The joy I have personally seen on the faces of these residents, often bringing tears of joy, is a gift beyond compare. And what would West Chester's annual May Festival every year on the 1st weekend in May be without our traditional Maypole Dance, or the lively WCDW dancing at the Fair in suport of Chester County Hospital. Meanwhile the dancers form a bond of close friendships lasting a lifetime based on a consistent work ethic resulting in "doing good for others". WCDW enjoys a unique environment of diversity, mutual caring and respect (a kind of safe harbor from the hardness of the world) where everyone is treated fairly and receives solid technical training in preparation for their service. I honestly can't think of a more dedicated and deserving group of community minded youth and adults and thank you for your involvement in helping continue this important endeavor.

6

Volunteer

Rating: 5

WCDW delivers high energy, professional performances from 4 teams, representing young teens, emerging professionals, litugical and professional. These performers train year round to bring dance to the community. Performing at various venues, they bring quality performances to community events, sporting venues and long term care facilities. Their professional company's original "Rachel Harris: One Woman Over the line", tells the story of a West Chester area slave's travel to freedom through dance. It is a performance not to be missed! A beautiful, emotional, historical story brought to life in a very personal way. The training the participants receive is top notch, the life experiences they gain from bringing their work to the community is fabulous. The joy they bring to the audience's is delightful, especially for those that are often forgotten or rarely have the opportunity to experience quality dance performances. Great job WCDW!