About two dozen students at Webster Middle School received a special treat at their school on Dec. 14 when John Cassese, aka The Dance Doctor, gave them a special dance class.
The visit was just one of many to schools this year for Cassese who said it was his passion to promote dance and dance education throughout the community.
He said he enjoyed teaching the students in their early teens about dance and to inspire them to explore the art form.
“When I got there they first performed Thriller, Michael Jackson’s piece, and I was very impressed. They did a good job,” Cassese said. “I told them about my background and showed them a couple of DVDs of my performances. I then taught them some salsa, which was the first time trying this type of dance. They responded very well and they learned it very fast.”
Over the years, Cassese has donated to nearly 150 different schools and organizations either monetarily or with his time.
“I just feel like it’s the right thing to do,” he said. “It’s my way of giving back to the community that’s supported me for so many years.”
Blending fun and fitness, Cassese teaches group and individual lessons to all experience levels at his Santa Monica dance studio.
Now in his 27th year of teaching dance, the last 24 of which have been in Santa Monica, he said dance was a good outlet for today’s youth.
“It helps build their confidence and I think they show they are a little more confident after receiving new information from an outside instructor,” he said. “They responded very positively and they were very grateful and thankful.”
This was the first dance program of its kind sponsored by Communities in the Schools.
Funding for these kinds of programs is typically unavailable, which is why Cassese feels it’s more important than ever to expose students to dance, and show the positive mental and physical impact dance can have.
The Dance Doctor studio is located at 1440 Fourth Street, Santa Monica. For more information, call 310.459.2264 or visit www.dancedoctor.com.