Who We Are

Hello!

The everybody dance! team has an unmatched passion for dance and positive change that’s at the heart of the program’s success. Their confidence and commitment is an inspiration to the students they teach and to the communities they serve.

Wow!...We were all so impressed and magnificently entertained by your talented and gifted multi-age dancers...(T)he strength and variety of dance training you masterfully provide was clearly evident...you confirm the rumors I have heard, that you are a remarkable organization, based on high expectations,
rigor and consistent results.

- Richard Alonzo, former LAUSD Local Superintendent -
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Our Mission & History

Gabriella Axelrad & Liza Bercovici

Liza Bercovici established The Gabriella Foundation in December 1999.

Six months earlier, in July, Liza’s 13-year-old daughter Gabriella had died in an automobile accident while the family was on a biking trip in the Grand Tetons. As Liza grieved, she realized she wanted to dedicate herself to honoring Gabri’s memory.

Gabri loved to dance. It had been the source of great joy and accomplishment. Physical exercise, discipline, practice, camaraderie, and the experience of building to a performance – all of this had benefitted Gabri. Liza knew that those values could be learned in dance class, and she felt that giving other children the opportunity to dance might improve their lives as well.

Inspired by news of a low-cost dance program for inner-city children in Santa Ana, Liza decided to create such a program in Los Angeles as a legacy for her daughter. She gave up her law practice and, although she had no experience in the worlds of dance or non-profits, set to work.

With the help of her husband, David Axelrad, and the support of her young sons Joe and Jacob, Liza began the monumental task of building a program she called everybody dance!  She hired Carol Zee, a young dancer and choreographer, to be the Artistic Director.  She enlisted the help of many of her friends and colleagues to find a building and create a board of directors for her fledgling non-profit.

everybody dance! opened its doors in May of 2000 at The Townhouse, an affordable housing project located in inner-city Los Angeles, with twelve classes serving 35 first-time dancer. From the beginning, the goal was to provide high quality dance instruction at little or no cost to ethnically diverse, economically disadvantaged children.

Within 18 months, demand for more classes was so great that a second studio was opened at the Pueblo Nuevo Episcopal Church near MacArthur Park.  Many of the students at this site attended Camino Nuevo Charter Academy and a year later, a third studio opened near the school’s Burlington campus.

Today everybody dance! provides dance instruction at four Camino Nuevo campuses in addition to 12 other sites throughout Los Angeles, serving over 3,700 young people.

It was clear that dance often improved academic achievement. Teachers and parents noticed that students were more engaged, focused and ready to learn.

Liza decided to open the first dance-themed charter school in the United States. She believed that the same rigor dance provided could be carried over into the classroom.

Gabriella Charter School opened in 2005. With dance integral to the curriculum, the principal, Susan Gurman, and her energetic young faculty created a culture of high expectations and a spirit of joy in the classrooms. Over the years, the school has grown into a unique, Title 1 K-8 school, winning recognition as one of the best charter schools in California.

This year, a second charter school opened in South LA.

The Gabriella Foundation and Gabriella Charter Schools continue to enhance their partnership through strategic collaboration and cooperation.

One family’s vision has changed thousands of lives.

Mission and Vision

The Mission of The Gabriella Foundation is to transform the lives of underserved youth in Los Angeles through high quality dance instruction.

Our Vision is for The Gabriella Foundation to be nationally recognized as a model for transformative work in the artistic expression of dance and creative youth development, nurturing and sustaining communities where youth, regardless of economic or racial background, foster a lifelong appreciation of dance, are leaders engaging positively in their communities, serve as role models and mentors to new generations, and possess the self-discipline, confidence, and sheer drive to reach their full potential.

In 2017-18, The Gabriella Foundation’s everybody dance! program will provide high-quality, in/after-school dance education to 3,700 underserved children and youth at 16 sites throughout Los Angeles. On average, students stay with our program for 7+ years and 30% study more than one dance form – the depth of learning they experience becoming a part of them as they transition into post-high school college and career pursuits. Everybody dance! is anything but fleeting:

  • 93% of students surveyed say that everybody dance! improves their physical fitness
  • 89% said their self-esteem improved
  • 91%, their self-efficacy
  • 90% their sense of being supported by friends and the community.

A Transformative History

In 2017-2018, everybody dance! is anticipated to provide in- and after-school dance instruction to over 3,700 low-income youth at 12 sites throughout Los Angeles, making it a leader in the provision of quality dance instruction to underserved youth in Los Angeles, and the largest dance program in Los Angeles providing sequential, long-term dance training to low-income youth.

Our Flagship Partner: The Gabriella Charter School

Gabriella Charter Schools join academic rigor with the creativity of dance to engage the hearts and minds of young people in underserved communities, empowering them to excel both inside and outside the classroom.

In 2005, inspired by parent requests for an academic program with similarly high expectations as the everybody dance! program, we opened Gabriella Charter School, a unique, Title 1, K-8 dance-themed public school, each of whose 436 students study dance as part of every school day. In 2013, to strengthen governance capacity, we established the School as a separate, but linked, non-profit entity with everybody dance! This restructuring allowed everybody dance! To continue to provide its award-winning dance curriculum at the high-performing charter school, and opens doors for changing even more lives for youth in Los Angeles.

In 2016, GCS was awarded the California Gold Ribbon Award, the Title 1 Achievement Award, and the California Exemplary Arts Program marking its excellence in providing a rigorous, arts-infused program to its students while maintaining academic excellence. GCS was also named to the 2016 California Honor Roll as a Star School for its work in closing the achievement gap and listed as a Spotlight School in a new report from Great Schools.

In August 2017, GCS will open GCS 2 at the Trinity Elementary School Campus located at 3736 Trinity Street in Los Angeles, CA.

Join Our Team

Do you want to play a part in transforming young lives through dance?