ABOUT BIJA BEAT
By sharing music, dance and art in a unique and unexpected way, Bija Beat promotes joy, positivity, connection and philanthropy.
Founded by Tracy Straus, the Artistic Director of the Colorado-based nonprofit organization Celebrate the Beat (CTB) and the Artistic Associate of National Dance Institute (NDI), Bija Beat is the marriage of fitness and artistic exploration, engaging students on physical, mental, emotional and spiritual levels.
Bija Beat classes promote health and wellbeing by approaching exercise in a fresh, non-competitive, art filled atmosphere. Our teaching method encourages students to leave problems at the door. Participants leave feeling centered, uplifted and energized.
“Bija” is the Sanskrit word for seed. Our classes plant a seed of hope and generosity. A portion of each class fee funds transformative arts education programming for children in schools through the award winning methodology of National Dance Institute.
ABOUT TRACY STRAUS
Tracy Straus is the founder of Bija Beat, the innovative dance program that marries fitness and artistic exploration to promote overall health and wellbeing.
A trained dancer and Master Teacher who possesses a deep appreciation for movement and live music, and its connection to the soul, she developed Bija Beat during her recent fellowship at The Center for Ballet and the Arts at New York University.
An actress as well as a dancer, Tracy trained at The Royal Academy of Dramatic Art in London and performed in various off-Broadway venues. Other work includes associate producing the Tony Award-winning Broadway productions “Spring Awakening” and “American Idiot".
Tracy is also the founder and artistic director of Celebrate the Beat (CTB), a nonprofit organization that teaches music and dance to over 4,000 children in 29 schools throughout Colorado and in Nayarit, Mexico. Tracy is currently a member of National Arts Strategies’ Chief Executive Program: Community and Culture, and the Artistic Associate for National Dance Institute (NDI).
She holds an MA from Bank Street College of Education and a BA from the University of Michigan.
ABOUT DANA PANEPINTO
Dana Panepinto is a teaching artist with an MFA in Theatre Performance from the University of Florida. A native of New Orleans, she considers herself a New Yorker after 13 years of city living. Throughout her time in New York, Dana has balanced teaching theatre, dance and visual art with performing in such classics as Macbeth, Trojan Women and The Man that Came to Dinner, as well as other contemporary and original productions. Teaching the arts has become her greatest pleasure in recent years, having worked for Stages of Learning, Wingspan Arts, Artsconnection, LEAP, the JCC and especially National Dance Institute. Dana is thrilled to be joining fellow NDI Teaching Artists at Bija Beat!
National Dance Institute (NDI) was founded in 1976 by legendary New York City Ballet principal dancer Jacques d’Amboise, and leads the field of arts education with a model program that has been studied and replicated worldwide. Under the Artistic Direction of Ellen Weinstein, NDI uses dance and music to instill in students a love of the arts, a passion for learning, and a desire to strive for their personal best.
At the root of NDI’s methodology is the belief that the arts have a unique power to engage all children—regardless of background, ability, or socio-economic status—and motivate them toward excellence. NDI's exuberant, participatory, and intellectually engaging programs are enriching the lives of 6,500 children in 41 New York City schools each week. In addition, NDI has 12 associate programs in the United States, as well as one in Shanghai, China.
In 2011, NDI opened the doors to the National Dance Institute Center for Learning & the Arts on West 147th Street in Harlem, allowing the organization to further its mission and expand its reach. The NDI Center serves as a beacon for children, teachers, and artists in the community, throughout the country, and around the globe.
Since its founding, NDI has impacted the lives of over two million children…free of charge.
To learn more or make a donation, please visit nationaldance.org.