dance for all: social & emotional learning through creative movement

DFA Logo_WebOriginally designed for teens and adults with developmental disabilities, Dance For All (DFA) is a therapeutic program based in dance/movement and yoga that is easily adapted to a variety of populations. In addition to elementary and middle school special day classes, Dance for All has been successfully delivered to children in traditional Pre-K and elementary schools as well as to older adults.

While regularly-scheduled classes are offered through the Dance for All organization, we have co-developed a one-day facilitator training that allows participants to learn the tenets of DFA so that they may bring this innovative program into their own work.

dfa_group-circleThe comprehensive DFA curriculum for this training includes eight theme-based modules based in dance/movement therapy and yoga, each divided into three sections, which can be mixed and matched according to needs of the dancers. Step-by-step directions, pre- and post-discussion prompts, props/music suggestions, and helpful hints are included for all movement activities.

Watch a short introduction video on the Dance for All curriculum.


sample themes include:

    • Introductions: Fun and creative methods for beginning a class
    • Friendship: Building social skills and recognizing social cues
    • Feelings Identification: Identifying emotions to facilitate self-regulation
    • Posture: Developing body awareness
    • Calm Body: Creative and soothing methods to facilitate self regulation


find current classes & upcoming trainings:

Visit the Dance For All website for class schedules, events, and stories.

We offer a one-day Dance for All facilitator training annually in the fall. Our Fall 2017 training will be held on September 16th. For more information, and to register, click here.



dfa_group-closeup“I’ve been using the new techniques you taught us, such as starting with a simple, rhythmic song to get them dancing, clapping out the syllables of their name while they say it to the group, and inviting each person to pick a part of the body for us to warm up!  We are getting a lot of participation now. I also looked for signs of engagement from one young man who refuses to dance with us. By the end of class his legs were bouncing energetically while he sat in his chair.” – Sarah Haykel, Dance and Yoga Instructor and Life Coach

“I had a great experience teaching Dance For All. The notes provided by Hilary Kern and Kathy Cass were very helpful for me in order to formulate a certain structure for the class, as well as a fun way to introduce the topic of balance. I felt like I was free to experiment and develop my own teaching style throughout the class. I learned and practiced different ways to communicate instructions to the dancers by using words that were more clear and understandable for them. I feel like I learned a lot of effective communication and leadership skills by teaching this class, and I’m looking forward to teaching my next class.” – Clorinda Rossi-Shewan, MA, Lead Instructor, Dance For All

“For someone like Elisa whose cognitive skills and verbal expression are limited, dance has been a wonderful vehicle for her to express herself. Dance class is also a social environment where she is fully accepted and appreciated, which helps bolster both her social skills and her self-esteem. As Elisa’s mother, I have always wanted Elisa to participate in activities that she enjoys and to have as rich a life as possible despite her limitations. I also want to surround her with people that truly care about her and want to contribute to her joy, sense of well-being, and good self-esteem. It fills my heart when I see her happy and when she tells me, ‘I love my life!’ I know DFA has helped Elisa feel that way about her life.”  – Lora Jerugim, Licensed Clinical Social Worker, Dance For All Parent

dfa_high-five-people“Learning dance techniques have helped me in every day of my life. E.g. walking in crowds and crowded intersections. My favorite DFA moments are when we are all happy laughing together. DFA has brought me increased sociability—increased physical fitness and a better mood.” – Kellie, Dance For All Program Participant and Mentor

“Lexi was only ten years old when we found out about a dance program for youth and adults with special needs. We were invited to bring her by to see if it would be a good ‘fit.’ Well, Lexi started dancing that day and,thirteen years later, she hasn’t stopped. At Dance For All, Lex is a dancer, a friend, a helper, a choreographer, and a valued and contributing member of a group of very special individuals who want nothing more than to have fun together and bring joy and light into our world. At the helm of this remarkable program is Hilary Kern — a beautiful young woman who is not only a teacher and guide, she is starshine personified. – Hillary Kessler, Program Manager, Client Services, Westside Regional Center, Dance For All Parent


curriculum materials:

Written by DFA program developers, Kathy Cass MA, BC-DMT, NCC, CYT, E-RYT 500, and Hilary Kern MA, LMFT, ATR, CYT, the comprehensive manual includes eight theme-based modules with step-by-step directions, pre- and post-discussion prompts, props/music suggestions, and helpful hints are included for all movement activities. To purchase the manual, click here.


training instructors & program development team:

kathy-cass_headshot-jpgKathy Cass MA, BC-DMT, C-IAYT, AHC is a board certified dance/movement therapist, certified yoga therapist, and Ayurvedic Health Counselor with over 25 years of instructional and clinical experience with a variety of populations. In 1996, Kathy founded Chance to Dance (now Dance for All), a non-profit therapeutic dance/yoga organization serving persons of all ages and abilities, and served as its director until 2008. Kathy was also on the national BC-DMT panel of the Dance/Movement Therapy Certification Board for three years, one year as head of the panel. She has been a guest lecturer at Scripps College, Center for Movement Education and Research at Loyola Marymount University, UCLA, and Los Angeles Chapter of the California Association of Marriage and Family Therapists. Kathy is currently a part-time faculty member at Santa Monica College Emeritus Division, El Camino Community College, the Center for Movement Education and Research, and is a lead-instructor for UCLArts & Healing’s Certificate Program in Social Emotional Arts. She has been an Advisory Board Member for California State University, Fullerton, Extended Education in Expressive Arts Therapies, and has worked as a choreography, musical staging, and character-movement consultant for both theater companies and individuals. She maintains a private Ayurvedic Yoga Therapy practice in Santa Monica, CA.

Hilary-Kern_HeadshotHilary Kern MA, LMFT, ATR, CYT is the director of Dance For All, where she inspires sustainable leadership and community engagement through mentorship and education. As a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, Art Therapist, and wellness expert in private practice, Hilary integrates mind-body therapies and creative arts approaches to help people uncover their best self. Hilary helps people reconnect to their vitality and aliveness in the domains of sexuality, love and relationships, and heal through a variety of life’s challenges, including chronic illness, depression, anxiety, life transitions, and grief. Hilary also serves as a co-chair for the Expressive Arts Therapy Committee for the Los Angeles Chapter of the California Association of Marriage and Family Therapists.


for more information:

For more information, including DFA class schedules, events, stories, and for volunteer and internship/training opportunities, contact Victoria Alvarez at Volunteers can serve in several ways including assisting dancers in classes and performances. Volunteers are encouraged to find their own niche in the DFA family. Internship and training opportunities are also available.

For further inquiries on our facilitator trainings and/or the DFA manual, email us at or telephone us at (310) 452-1439, and visit our FAQs Section for commonly asked questions about the DFA Facilitator Trainings.