The Dance Institute of Washington (DIW) is dedicated to building discipline and a drive for excellence among youth in D.C. through dance training, performance opportunities and related support, with a focus on disadvantaged and at-risk youth. Fabian Barnes, a former soloist with the Dance Theatre of Harlem (DTH), founded DIW in 1987 to offer a unique opportunity for at-risk children and youth to explore and cultivate their artistic talents through the art of dance.
Since its founding, DIW has conducted community workshops and outreach programs to under-served communities, beginning with summer workshops for the hearing-impaired at Gallaudet University (1987) and including seminars for inner-city youths at recreation centers throughout Washington, D.C. In 1993, DIW began to operate its full-time studio class offerings n classical ballet, modern, jazz and African dance to ensure that young people in low-income areas would have access a solid, full-time dance education program. At that time DIW also began to aggressively recruit instructors from world class dance institutions such as the School of American Ballet, The Dance Theatre of Harlem, and the Martha Graham School of Dance. Since the implementation of year-round training, DIW has introduced young people ages 3-25 to the performing arts through weekly dance classes.
Through quality instruction, community programs and performance opportunities, DIW delivers a message of artistic excellence, integrity and inclusion for youth so that they may have creative outlets for self-expression. In a collaborative effort with the Levin School of Music, the Corcoran School of Art, the Writers' Corps and the D.C. Commission on the Arts and Humanities, DIW offer free classical ballet classes through the East of the River Cultural Arts Program to under-served children in Anacostia. Outreach performances are also presented each year in cooperation with the New Horizons program at the Children's National Medical Center.
In the summer of 1999, DIW relocated its offices and studios. This move enables DIW to expand the score of its services and its impact on youth. In the new location, DIW is set to provide twice as many classes and outreach programs. It gives D.C.'s youth a safe and encouraging environment in which to explore and develop their creative sides and giving children a place to go during after-school hours which are so high-risk for youth in areas, filled with violence, crime and drugs.