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Joy of Motion Dance Center unites dance professionals, students, and audiences by providing exceptional dance education and performances that stimulate a universal love of dance.



Joy of Motion’s vision is a thriving, creative community that celebrates its diversity through dance.



Personal Growth: We challenge those we serve to realize their fullest potential.

Community: We foster authentic interpersonal connections and a strong sense of belonging.

Inclusion: We are committed to the principle that Dance is for Everyone and create space for all to participate.

Excellence: We pursue the highest standards of quality at all levels of dance education and performance.



Hailed “the area’s most comprehensive dance institution” by The Washington Post, Joy of Motion Dance Center is dedicated to providing unparalleled learning and performance opportunities that reinforce the principle that Dance is for Everyone. Since our founding in 1976, we have earned a reputation for excellence in dance education, diversity and innovation in programming, and community service. We have been honored with the Mayor’s Art Award for Excellence in Service to the Arts and the Mayor’s Art Award for Outstanding Contribution to Arts Education.



Joy of Motion Dance Center, a nonprofit 501(c)(3) charitable arts organization, is committed to building communities that dance. Thousands of children and adults participate each year in dance classes, workshops, festivals, and performances at our 3 studio locations in 2 Wards of the District and in Bethesda, Maryland. The broad spectrum of dance that we offer to all ages, abilities, and levels falls into 4 major programs.


Community Dance School: Classes and workshops that train, inspire, and support dancers of all ages and stages of development.

Neighborhood Steps: Programs to strengthen communities and improve education through dance.

Dance Institute: Rigorous conservatory-style training programs for youth and adult students dedicated to dance.

Performance Season: Concerts and performances that entertain and enlighten audiences, building appreciation and support for the art of dance.



Michelle Ava teaches tap at Joy of Motion Dance Center’s original location in Cleveland Park.


Joy of Motion Dance Center was founded in 1976 by Michelle Ava as a place where students could study, observe, and perform a wide variety of dance forms. Operating on a shoestring budget with only three instructors, Joy of Motion quickly developed as a forum where dancers and artists could collaborate, experiment, and exchange ideas and talents.


The multi-media art of late faculty member Jack Guidone and the improvisational work of Ava gave Joy of Motion a progressive aura, which helped to establish the center as a melting pot of change and excitement in the world of DC dance. During the early years, Joy of Motion’s faculty, staff, enrollment and class offerings grew rapidly. Joy of Motion Dance Center’s programming ranged from modern and jazz to mime, improvisation and dance exercise, and included programs for children and senior citizens.

In 1978, Joy of Motion began the successful Dance in the Valley program (1978-1984), a week-long dance intensive in West Virginia’s Blue Ridge Mountains. In 1980, Robert Teri became co-director of the center and co-founder of Ava/Teri Dance Theater, a modern jazz repertory company that was based at Joy of Motion until 1986.

Michelle Ava and Jack Guidone perform. (Photo Credit: Michael Hauptschein)

Michelle Ava and Jack Guidone perform.
(Photo Credit: Michael Hauptschein)


In 1980, Joy of Motion incorporated as a nonprofit 501 (C)(3) organization, and moved to the location at 1643 Connecticut Avenue NW from the original location in Cleveland Park, expanding our class and program offerings, and adding a performance space to its facilities. Joy of Motion also began hosting a series of performing arts programs including the Dupont Circle Dance Series from 1980-1984 and Changing Climates: Dance at Dupont in 1987. Our Dupont Circle location closed in December of 2009 after 30 years of bringing dance to downtown DC.


In 1990, Douglas Yeuell became the center’s executive and artistic director. Under Yeuell’s leadership, Joy of Motion continued to expand its dance education training programs and services and improve its position in the DC dance community.

In September of 1991, Joy of Motion opened its second studio in the Friendship Heights community of DC adding a much-needed children’s program which included classes for preschoolers, children, young teens, and a teen intensive program focusing on jazz and modern providing advanced level training for the aspiring young dancer.

In December of 1995, Joy of Motion Dance Center expanded its Friendship Heights location to three studio spaces, and opened the Jack Guidone Theater providing a wonderful black box theater setting for dance companies and performing artists.

Don Bailey with student Bobby Sidney at JOMDC's Dupont Circle location.

Don Bailey with student Bobby Sidney at Joy of Motion Dance Center’s Dupont Circle location.


In January 2000, Joy of Motion opened the Bethesda location adding 3 more studio spaces and the opportunity for continued growth and development in the DC dance community. The Bethesda studio relocated to its current space at 7315 Wisconsin Avenue in March of 2006.

By March 2005, Joy of Motion Dance Center opened another studio location within the Atlas Performing Arts Center on H Steet NE DC.

Notable Awards

With well over 400 classes a week and more than 100 faculty members, Joy of Motion Dance Center is a leader in the dance community by providing the most comprehensive and in-depth offering of dance classes and workshops in the Washington metropolitan area. Joy of Motion is one of the largest community-based nonprofit dance organizations in the United States.

In 2002, Joy of Motion Dance Center was the winner of the Mayor’s Art Award for Excellence in Service to the Arts and was the 2009 winner of the Mayor’s Art Award for Outstanding Contribution to Arts Education.

This history of Joy of Motion was made possible by the Flachs Family Foundation in honor of Michelle Ava.


Joy of Motion Dance Center is proudly affiliated with several of the area’s leading professional dance companies. Joy of Motion Dance Center supports these Resident Arts Partners with rehearsal space and promotional assistance. In exchange, Residents Arts Partners provide artistic and educational opportunities for Joy of Motion’s students and enrich the community with their artistry. Joy of Motion has played a critical role in the burgeoning D.C. dance community by supporting over 20 Resident Arts Partners throughout its history.

Michelle AVA, Artistic Director
Photo: Enoch Chan

El Teatro de Danza Contemporanea de El Salvador
Miya Hisaka, Artistic Director
Photo: Enoch Chan

Furia Flamenca
Estela Velez, Artistic Director

Nomad Dancers
Adriane Whalen and Christel Stevens, Co-Artistic Directors

Silk Road Dance Company
Laurel Victoria Gray,
Artistic Director
Photo: John G. Walter


Joy of Motion Dance Center recognizes the value of partnerships. We are honored to be a member of several local service organizations. We believe working together is integral to the success of our arts community.  Joy of Motionf looks forward to collaborating with others in the future!

Atlas Performing Arts Center
Resident Arts Partner