Leverage Dance Theater

Reasons to Give

Letter from our Artistic Director
May 2017

Dear Friends,

Leverage has an important fundraising campaign happening on May 11 (for 24 hours only). It is particularly important to us for a few reasons.

Leverage has invested so much to get here — to a place, where I believe we are really able to deliver on the promise to touch, inspire, elevate and educate through dance.

In the 17 years I have run a dance company, we have had affordable, uncomplicated access to a dance studio for only three years (2009-2012). And even then, it took a excessive toll on dancers bodies because it was a concrete floor with some padding on top.

Despite the challenges it has posed to be without our own class and rehearsal space, we have not only survived but grown. I would argue, Leverage has thrived artistically, evolving a unique brand of site-specific work. That said, the three years we had a studio space, allowed us to plant seeds that would lead to some of our greatest growth.

Just as we are poised to put down roots at Intersect Arts Center, where we will have the opportunity to be in residence, with our own dance studio, sharing space with like-minded community-engaged artists that will allow us to expand our programming to more broadly serve both emerging artists and at-risk children in the Gravois Park community, we are feeling the crunch of contracting budgets from major funders.

The Missouri State government has withheld several thousand dollars granted to Leverage this year due to budget cuts. Changes in the Regional Arts Commission funding rules have made our short term funding uncertain, as we adjust or grow our budget to fit into appropriate category.

Leverage presents four major educational programs:

Moving Through Math lecture demonstrations and classes, use dance to teach math and use math to teach about the craft of dance.

Moving with Science teaches basic physics while inspiring students to experience themselves as connected to the study of science.

Wiley & the Hairy Man is a piece of dance theater based on an African American folktale. It is a fun, high energy performance that not only supports literacy and cultural learning but also introduces many kids to professional dance, and offers lessons about bullying, overcoming fear, and looking to one’s intellect and community for problem solving rather than fighting or running away.

Learning Through Movement is a Springboard program several of Leverage’s teaching artists present. It offers more in-depth learning through a series of classes. Kids are given the opportunity to experience creative movement, recognized dance steps, performance and composition while exploring aspects of American culture and the evolution of dance in America.

Until now Leverage teachers have mostly offered Learning Through Movement programming through short residencies (5-8 sessions) after school. Moving into Intersect Art Center will offer Leverage the opportunity to expand this this programming. As the dance wing of Intersect Art’s programming, we will teach in-school and after-school dance classes, throughout the year, to all grade levels at Gateway College Preparatory Academy. The inclusion of regular dance classes as part of a school curriculum is an exceptional opportunity and one that schools in St. Louis are still not adopting despite the overwhelming evidence that the inclusion of regular dance education contributes to increases in test scores, high-school and college graduation rates, completion of advanced mathematics coursework and more. Even in the face of statistics suggesting that these impacts are even often more pronounced in minority and at-risk communities.

The beauty of dance education is that kids think they are just “dancing.” They think it is play, and they do it without you making them, unlike math homework or group projects. Yet dance teaches many of the same skills. When kids work without your making them, they learn better and they learn more.

I believe firmly that Leverage can make a difference in the lives of the children we serve, and that by modeling in school dance programing that effectively supports achievement we can open the door to dance programming in other schools.

We can not do this with the support of individuals who believe, as we do, that dance matters, dance changes brains, changes lives and needs champions to reveal its gifts to the world.

If you believe as I do that dance needs to be supported, please make a contribution to Leverage Dance Theater on Thursday May 11, Give STL Day.

The last reason to give on May 11, is that by giving through www.givestlday.org/leveragedancetheater your gift could be added to, or lifted, by a matching donor.

During the 20 min time slots below the St. Louis Community Foundation has obtained $20,000 in matching funds to be distributed among the organizations receiving donations. Up to $500 dollars of each donation given during the times below will be lifted with a prorated amount of the $20,000 matching funds available during that time slot.


We encourage you to give during the less busy donation times of 6:20am, 11:20pm.

Thank you for your consideration and your support,


Diana Barrios
Director, Leverage Dance Theater

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A Modern Dance Collective in Saint Louis, Missouri.