4 Your Community: Butler grad gives free dance classes to keep kids out of trouble

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(Oct. 15, 2015) -- A Butler graduate is using his professional dancing skills to keep Indianapolis kids out of trouble by giving them a positive change.

Michael Johnson spent most of his professional career with the Boston Ballet.  He’s no longer a performer, but now a teacher.   Some of his time is spent working with kids who have no dance experience.

“As soon as I returned to Indianapolis I saw a huge need in this community for a high quality dance outreach program,” said Johnson.

He took what he learned in Boston’s outreach program, and in his first year with no funding, worked with one school.

“It’s really setting us up for special awareness, focus,  discipline, listening skills and working together in a group,” said Johnson.  “One of our biggest lessons to the children is we want them to help each other.”

Johnson and sometimes other instructors from Kids Dance Outreach spend eight to nine weeks at one school with students who learn the basic dance moves for free.

“We want to keep this an even opportunity, an equal opportunity,” said Johnson.

The nonprofit continues to grow, partnering with groups like the Children’s Bureau and the Department of Child Services.  Johnson said more schools continue to reach out to Kids Dance Outreach for help.

“We can change school communities, change family life and if kids are helping each other in the neighborhood we’re changing neighborhoods,” said Johnson.

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