Our Mission / Our History
California Dance Institute (CDI) is an in-school and after-school non-profit arts education program that teaches life and learning skills through dance and music. CDI’s mission is to motivate children to develop a personal standard of excellence by instilling confidence, discipline and focus through the rigor and joy of dance.
CDI’s athletic, high energy dance style, appeals to boys and girls alike. Our child-friendly choreography has been carefully tailored to allow all children, including those with special needs, to experience success. CDI programs are unique because they focus not on mastering a particular dance form, but on striving for excellence.
Founder and Director Carole Valleskey, formerly a principal dancer with the Joffrey Ballet, started CDI in 2001. During the current school year CDI is serving over 1600 children in ten public schools in underserved neighborhoods throughout Los Angeles. In its thirteen-year history, CDI has served over 14,000 Los Angeles area children.
CDI is the California associate of the National Dance Institute (NDI), founded in 1976 by New York City Ballet’s Jacques d’Amboise. The program is unique in the arts education world because its focus is not on achieving mastery of a particular dance form, but rather on recognizing and striving for excellence. The athletic, high-energy dance style appeals to boys and girls alike, and studies have shown that participation in the program improves students’ academic performance and self-confidence.
The Children We Serve
In the schools CDI serves, 87% of children are on the free lunch program (indicating an income of $33,000 or less for a family of four), 81% are Hispanic, 9% are African American, 4 % are Caucasian, 3% are Filipino, and 2% are Asian. 53% are of Limited English Proficiency and 2% are Special Education students.
Highly Trained Teaching Artists
CDI employs only professional dancers and musicians. Each class is taught by a Lead Teacher, an Assistant Teacher and a Musical Accompanist, all of whom have been trained in the rigorous NDI teaching methodology. CDI is one of the only dance programs in Los Angeles to employ live musical accompaniment in dance classes taught in public schools.