04/15/2016 12:12 pm ET Updated Apr 15, 2017

Luna: The Beating Heart of Dance-Making and Creativity

Luna Dance Institute (LDI) is the place for dance education and creativity in the East Bay. Located in West Berkeley next to the I-80 freeway and the Berkeley Marina, Luna fosters community by gathering parents, educators, children, choreographers, policy-makers, administrators, and funders to witness the art of dance and its multiple possibilities. For decades LDI has offered free open houses where over 100 children and parents engage in movement- galloping, twirling and laughing, while they strengthen their family bond. On Tuesdays teen dancers rehearse their own choreography, while teachers and dance artists discuss topics such as arts integration in our professional library. Over 1000 dance-enthusiasts come to Luna each year- for children, families, dancers, teachers, and audience members Luna is the PLACE for creative dance.

As we approach our 25th year, Luna continues to cultivate a culture of art. Artistic practice, the process of creating and discovering through dance is fundamental to all of Luna's programs, which connect dance artists with communities. Our teaching artists share their love for dance after-school and on Saturdays, teaching students in the Studio Lab and Early Childhood Dance programs, and to families through MPACT. Young children from infants through three come to Luna to dance with their parents, while older children take dance classes that focus on choreography. These same children and their families, as well as local students and residents, are provided opportunities to see dance-makers "at work" through our annual free open studio event, 20 Points of View, and our bi-annual CHOREOFUND. This year's 20 Points of View occurs onThursday, April 21st, and features 20 local choreographers sharing their creative process by conducting a rehearsal, improvising in the dance studio, or by receiving audience feedback. CHOREFUND 6 is open to local choreographers on a first-come first-served basis and invites audience members to hear about the works of the artists from their perspective, and then to vote for the one they believe deserves their entry-fee. The sixth CHOREOFUND happens on June 2nd.

Many choreographers who participate in Luna's events are also active participants in our Professional Learning Department, and act as peer mentors for their teaching colleagues. They are also learners in Luna's teacher education workshops which encompass topics that demonstrate the breadth of dance: Dance & Early Childhood, Dance & Common Core, and Performing Artist Teaching in Community. Our goal is to continue to work toward connecting dance-makers with the community, and currently we are investigating the potential of a resident artist program.

For 24 years Luna has served as the Bay Area's home for creative dance, and as a generative space where dancers can create, artists can embrace their dual roles in community work (teacher and choreographer), and children feel free to express who they are through dance. Art is the beating heart of Luna, and the rhythm that connects us.

*Photo of LV Dance Collective by LDI staff