The Gabriella Foundation was established in 1999 in memory of Gabriella Axelrad, a thirteen-year-old who loved to dance. It was the hope of Gabri's family and friends that disadvantaged children in Los Angeles would receive the same joy and benefits from dance that Gabri experienced in her short life. In the hope of serving all children with an interest in experiencing the wonders of dance, the Foundation named its program, everybody dance!
everybody dance! opened its doors in May 2000, in a low-income housing project just west of downtown Los Angeles. The program started with 35 students in 12 weekly classes. Demand for the classes grew quickly and additional instructors were added to accommodate the rush of young applicants. Currently everybody dance! provides 231 classes in ballet, pre-ballet, tap, modern, jazz, choreography, hip-hop and theater dance to nearly 2000 students. Instructors teach during the school day at Gabriella Charter School (GCS) and Camino Nuevo Charter Academy (CNCA). The remaining classes are held during after-school hours and on Saturdays. Due in part to the program’s rigorous approach and high student expectations, everybody dance! students are winning awards, matriculating to competitive arts-focused high schools and participating in summer programs with professional dance companies. A few of the most advanced alumni are using their training to join international dance companies.
Professionals in the dance field have begun to take note of everybody dance!'s rigor, quality and high expectations. Benjamin Millepied, ("Black Swan," "L.A. Dance Project," former New York City ballet principal) recently described everybody dance! as "the best program I have seen in this country."
The Foundation opened Gabriella Charter School (GCS) in 2005 to provide an academic option that would hold inner-city students to the same rigor and high expectations exemplified by everybody dance!. GCS began with 100 students in a building adjacent to the low-income project where everybody dance! had started five years earlier.
GCS quickly developed a track record of high student achievement and strong parent participation. In 1013, GCS tested over the State API target of 800 for the eighth year in a row at 892 - all the more remarkable given that 88% of the School's enrollment was considered socio-economically disadvantaged and one-third of the students were English language learners.
“…I have changed emotionally because I can dance freely without caring about what everyone else thinks. I changed physically because I am stronger.” - everybody dance! Student, Age 14