Partnerships Key to Sustainability for Dances for a Variable Population

Case Summary

Through clear and innovative programming, active demonstration of program benefits, and equal investment in their community of teaching artists and participants, Dances for a Variable Population (DVP) has been able to build successful, lasting relationships with a variety of partner organizations. These partnerships have formed the backbone of their programming, and sustained them throughout the 15 years of their existence.


DVP have faced various types of challenges presented by these important partnerships such as acquiring sufficient space for their program at partner facilities, determining how to build buy-in and advocacy for their programs with partner staff, and building in community and participation from older adults.


DVP has developed several techniques to build strong relationships and participation with partner sites. At the start of every partnership, DVP provides program site staff with a clear curriculum, flyers with numerous photos of past programs in action, videos, and other materials that illustrate the benefits of the program: greater physical health, social connections, promotes active use of their facilities and involvement in their community, etc.

DVP advocates for their dance programs to take place in a visible, easily accessible space at partner sites, such as a public room at a parks and recreation center, or in the cafeteria at a senior center. Centering the program in the facility’s space increases visibility to staff, and serves as a recruitment tool to attract possible participants.

Developing the community around the classes remains a focus throughout implementation. By honoring the experience, input, and contributions of both the students who are engaging in the program and the artists who are teaching, DVP builds a community where everyone is creating movement and dance while learning and growing together.

This has led to long-term commitment of participants — some of whom have been a part of the program since DVP’s founding. The participants themselves advocate for the program, which leads to reciprocal support — teaching artists invest more deeply knowing they have students who care about the classes, and in turn the students care about the teaching artists who are coming to teach.

Finally, the senior serving organizations that house the programs bear witness to this process and see firsthand the transformative impact that the DVP programs bring to their community. Therefore, their buy-in increases and they continue to do what they can to support their partnership with DVP so that their older adult constituents will receive the benefits of their programs for years to come.

  Organizational Profile

Host Organization Name

Dances for a Variable Population

Host Organization Description

From their website: Founded in 2005 by dancer / choreographer / master teacher Naomi Goldberg Haas, DVP is a multi-generational dance company and educational organization promoting strong and creative movement among all people with a special focus on older adults. Using the power of dance to build community, DVP creates lively, fun and beautifully executed theatrical dance with diverse individuals and professional dancers.

DVP is recognized for its free site-related professional dance performances in New York City parks and transportation hubs, including Grant’s Memorial Tomb, Prospect Park, New York Botanical Garden, the High Line, Washington Square Park, Governors Island, and the Whitehall Ferry Terminal. Touring residencies and performances include national and international festivals and venues. Through their programs, DVP provides performance and training opportunities for older professional dancers and choreographers.

Host Organization Website

DVP has developed a distinctive movement and dance workshop program that is free of charge and appropriate for older adults of all ages and abilities. Year-round MOVEMENT SPEAKS® sessions are regularly held in NYC libraries and senior centers. Their city-wide Dances For Seniors, a performance/interactive workshop program is held every fall since 2008. On an ongoing basis, DVP’s Variable Pop® Dance and Fitness, along with Modern Dance for Life are currently held at community centers and dance studios across New York City.

  Facility Details

DVP works in a variety of settings via partner sites: parks and recreation centers, community centers, senior centers, libraries, dance studios, residential centers, and care facilities.

  Material / Equipment Details

A sound system is required.

I cannot describe the joy I feel teaching for DVP. It is what I most look forward to at the start of every morning. Even when I am having an off day, seeing my students move, learn, laugh and connect with one another puts a huge smile on my face and gives me purpose. My students have become like a family to me, and watching them grow stronger and more confident with each class is an incredible gift. I have been teaching these classes for eight years and I can say that this program truly changes lives in the most positive way!

teaching artist

Case Study Details

case study topics

Innovative Curriculum, Partnerships, Sustainability

organization type

Arts Organizations

art form

Dance, Performing Arts

program site type

Community Centers, Islamic Community Center, Jewish Community Center, Libraries, Parks & Gardens, Senior Centers, Senior Housing, YMCA

population density


includes virtual programming?


session details

8-12 sessions @ 90-120 min.

funding source

Municipal Funding, Private Foundation, State Funding