Since 1987, Young Dance has encouraged youth in our community to build body and spirit through the art of dance. Our mission is to transform lives through movement. We are an inclusive community where creativity flourishes, encouraging personal and artistic excellence through diverse forms of dance.

Young Dance encourages peer-to-peer mentorship and collaboration in the making of dances. Through our engagement of youth of all abilities, body types, and economic, social and cultural backgrounds, we provide an environment in which diversity is authentically embraced and celebrated. The young people with whom we work become leaders in their schools, which prepare them for leadership roles – both formal and informal – in their communities. And by working with professional, highly accomplished artists, Young Dance dancers develop a keen understanding of the art form, the complexity of creating a production, and the power of the pursuit of excellence.

For promotional materials, including photo and video links, click below.

Young Dance Promotional Materials (PDF)
Group of dancers, some with assistive movement devices.
Two dancers in the foreground stare at each other. One dancer uses a walker.


Transforming Lives Through Movement


The vision of Young Dance is to engage youth in life-long learning through creative expression. The dance company and school collaborates with professional artists, forges meaningful community partnerships and pushes the boundaries of the art and practice of dance. 


  • Young people are artists with something important to say.
  • Social justice is an embedded component of our classes and organization.
  • Every body is capable of creative expression.
  • The creative process is a model for civil discourse.
  • A healthy somatic dance practice is grounded in a developmentally appropriate curriculum.


Maria Genné and Colleen Callahan, Founding Directors

Young Dance was born out of a collaboration between Maria Genné and Colleen Callahan in 1988. This early iteration established the values that Young Dance still upholds. Young people are artists with something important to say that can push the practice and art of dance. Dance is a transformative form of education that builds self awareness, collaboration, and complex thinking. In a multi-age environment, young people develop their roles as leaders as well as members of a community. 

Sam Costa, Young Dance Director, 1997 – 1999

Sam Costa, 1952 —1999, was the founder and Artistic Director of 10,000 Dances and the Artistic Director of Young Dance from 1997 until his death due to pancreatic cancer in 1999. Sam carried out his mission of turning kids onto dance through arts residencies in schools and community settings. He believed such exposure at a young age would create more understanding and appreciation of all dance forms as they grew to adulthood.

Sam Costa Scholarship Fund

The SCSF was established in memory of Sam and donated to Young Dance in 2001. Since then, the SCSF has been supported by grants from individual donors and allocations from the general budget. Information about applying for a Sam Costa Scholarship (PDF). If you need assistance completing the application, please email info@youngdance.org or call 612-423-3064.

E.E. Balcos, Young Dance Director, 1999
Jeff Duval, Young Dance Director, 1999 — 2000
Kaori Kenmotsu and Gretchen Pick, Co-Directors, 2000 — 2006
Gretchen Pick, Executive Director, 2007 — Present

Meet the Current Team

Artistic Team Board of Directors
Black and white image of dancers jumping from 1989.
1989 Early Days


At Young Dance, we believe that everyone can (and should!) dance. Our approach to dance education centers artistic expression, creativity, and a deep investigation in the art form. In exploring elements of Body, Action, Space, Time, and Energy through an array of techniques, students develop self-awareness and critical thinking skills through dance. 


Athwin Foundation

Carlson Family Foundation

F.R. Bigelow Foundation

Legacy Amendment

Minnesota State Arts Board

Metropolitan Regional Arts Council

Saint Paul STAR Program

Saint Paul & Minnesota Foundation

Collage of sponsor logos including the Minnesota State Arts Board, Metro Regional Arts Council, Saint Paul and Minnesota Foundation, Carlson Family Foundation, Saint Paul Star Program, and Athwin Foundation.
This activity is made possible by the voters of Minnesota through grants from the Minnesota State Arts Board and the Metropolitan Regional Arts Council, thanks to a legislative appropriation from the arts and cultural heritage fund.


This educational model prioritizes creativity, critical thinking, and collaboration. In addition, it fosters:

  • Self-awareness
  • Confidence
  • Appreciation for the arts
  • Community
  • Teamwork
  • Self-esteem
  • Passion for lifelong learning
  • Problem-solving skills
  • Initiative
  • Independence
  • Discipline
  • Healthy lifestyle

“Distance Learning with Young Dance: “Class put a smile on our daughter’s face and it was a joy to feel the house alive with her movement and all the voices”

-Young Dance parent