The mission of Dancing for Joy is to provide quality dance instruction for every student while encouraging movements and motivations that glorify our Maker. Our goal is to create a positive learning environment for students of all ages and all genders, to develop a deeper appreciation for the performing arts.
Achieving that Mission
- We are non-competitive yet professional.
- We provide a healthy and safe outlet for young dancers to expand strengths, work on weaknesses, and build confidence in a loving and encouraging environment.
- We maintain a high standard of commitment to technique in our classes.
- We use choreography, music, and costumes that are appropriate.
- We place an emphasis on using dance as a way to serve God and others.
With one student, a beautiful three year-old who loved to dance, DFJ began in April of 1998 under the arts program at Hillcrest Chapel in Bellingham. By the end of the year, DFJ had fifteen students ranging from ages three to thirteen. From January through May of 1999 DFJ continued to grow. The spring session ended with 30 students.
In July of 1999, Kurt and Maluhia were married, and moved to Seattle for a couple of years to finish Kurt’s education at Seattle Pacific University. Maluhia danced with a company in Seattle, called Fusion Dance Company, and taught dance classes at Fusion Dance Company and at Rainer Dance Studio. During her time in Seattle, some DFJ students continued to take lessons at Hillcrest and at other dance schools in Bellingham.
In January of 2002, Kurt and Maluhia moved back up to Bellingham and the DFJ program began again at Hillcrest Chapel. The winter session started with 90 students registered while the fall session (September-December 2002), had over 150 students. This would soon prove to be too many students to continue to dance on carpet at hillcrest chapel.
As DFJ continued to grow, Kurt and Maluhia felt led to venture out into the community, to fulfill a need in bellingham, and they opened up their own dance studio. They became an official business in December of 2002. In January 2003, DFJ’s first studio opened, located in the Discovery Park Business Square in a space that was 850 square feet. After six months, DFJ outgrew that space and relocated to our current location in the Hannegan Square where we nearly tripled our space. In the fall of 2006, we had over 350 student hours! DFJ expanded next door to create a third studio, a larger waiting room, office, and during the summer of 2007. In 2008 the economic downturn took a toll on DFJ and it's community, but we came out of that time restructured and more organized.
Dancing For Joy continued to grow, and in 2015 DFJ expanded another "Bay" in our existing location, adding a 4th Studio, a staff lounge, a costume storage area, expanded lobby, and a new space to be turned into a preschool "Love to Learn" and art school "Artpeace". After a great start with the preschool and artschool we had difficulty maintaining consistent teachers, and ultimately closed the art school in favor of opening up a new dance space in Lynden the fall of 2017, where there seemed to be a large need/desire/excitement. The Preschool lasted a couple more years and was ultimately shut down from the 2019 Coronavirus Pandemic. Right before the pandemic was the peek of DFJ's success in the communities of Bellingham & Lynden Thus far.
The pandemic challenged the very fabric of our business in so many unexpected ways, and we have seen other dance studios shut down, and/or change ownership during the pandemic. In the Summer of 2019 while Dancing For Joy was shut down DFJ underwent another transformation and added a studio 5 into their existing space. Studio 5 also acts a s a small black box theatre for small presentations, video productions, and musical theatre intensives. Dancing For Joy has been resilient, and started performing on stage again in the winter of 2021, after a 2 year hiatus, due to the coronavirus and state mandates. Dancing For Joy continues to rebuild after the pandemic with an over 8000 sq ft facility & 5 Studios in Bellingham, a 1500 sq ft facility & 2 Studios in Lynden, 28 Staff Members, 45 Jubilee Dance Company Members, Over 500 Students & Over 800 Student Hours per week. Thank You to the Communities of Bellingham & Lynden who have continued to support Dancing For Joy through the Pandemic, and the Performing Arts through the years.
A huge part of Dancing For Joy is community. We value it. Our coffee shop is proof of that! We have a sit down area where people can enjoy a cup of coffee and share a great conversation. We invite people to be a part of things: like, building wells in Africa, the re-telling of the nativity story through dance at Christmas, and shows that are more than "recitals". The bottom line is that we care about kids, and who they grow up to be: Artists! Creators! Dancers! The art of motion is not just for the elite few who can make it as a career - it is for everyone who enjoys dance, and finds joy in dance. All are welcome to be a part of the giving and artful community of Dancing For Joy.
Thank you to all of the wonderful people that make up Dancing For Joy! It is not an entity in and of itself, but a larger community of people that make it what it is. Thank you Teachers, Office Staff, Students, and Parents for your continued involvement and support. Dancing For Joy would not exist without all of you!
The Thirst Project
We are dedicated to continue to do what we feel called to at dancing for joy, and making a difference in the world while we do it. Do what you love to aid what you hate. We hate that there are so many people in the world without the basic need of clean water. Millions die per year because of drinking water that is unsanitary. Over 60% of our bodies are made of water, yet so many people cannot rehydrate themselves with a clean water. This basic need, has called us as a community to continually raise money to build wells in Africa, clean water wells for communities that are without clean water. Dancing for Joy has built 10 wells so far and are well into our 11th well. GPS coordinates will be available soon, as to the exact locations of the wells we have sponsored in Ethiopia. If you feel led to participate in this effort financially or in other ways, please donate or ask how you can support the building of these wells at our office. Thanks.
We raise money: Donating all of our tips from our coffee shop, raising awareness in the community, selling bottled water at our coffee shop, we have a benefit show every March near World Water Day, Special Promotions, Bake Sales, & an on-going donation area at our studio (for every dollar donated, you get to put a blue marble in a Jerry Can - It represents a drop of clean water for people that are without it).
Dancing For Joy’s first 10 wells were built in Ethiopia with our implementing partner “Evangeline International” a wonderful non-profit that is currently undergoing directional change as an organization. We thank them for the many years of collaboration in bringing clean water to those without it. We are proud to announce that we have found a new implementing partner called “The Thirst Project” which aligns with our mission for lasting clean water and high standards of sustainability for the wells that we help fund. We will be focusing on providing clean water and irradicating thirst in the “Kingdom of Eswatini” previously called “Swaziland” alongside our new partners. Each well is going to cost $12,000 which is the cost of building the well, engaging/training the communities which they reside in, and how to make it last for a lifetime. Communities usually range between 300-500 people without clean drinking water & 100% of our donations go directly towards the building of the well and it’s sustainability. At Dancing For Joy, Jubilee dance companies, and our broader community we are attempting to build one well per year through dance and fundraising efforts. We are committed to doing what we love “dance” to undo what we hate “waterborne illness & thirst in the world”. It is truly a crisis in which we hope to bring a “drop” of sustainable change and awareness too. Please consider joining our “thirst-no-more” team, and give the gift that will keep on giving.
JOIN THE TEAM OR DONATE @ http://my.thirstproject.org/thirstnomore