Hicksville nonprofit brings dance to the community
Little feet leap and twirl across the floor, cotton candy-colored tutu’s bouncing with every attempt at a jeté. Smiles and laughter all around as Theresa Goubran encourages her little ballerinas to dance their way across the studio floor.
“It really started off as I was dreaming big,” said Goubran of the nonprofit dance program, Gotta Dance, she founded in Hicksville. “I really want to bring the gift of dance to my local community. I want to bring that quality, theatrical, inspiring dance program to the community that I live in.”
Goubran has been dancing all her life, starting with backyard shows for only her parents’ eyes to see. Since then, she’s performed on Broadway in the European tour of 42nd Street and in two tours of Japan with The American Jukebox Show and The American Country Show. She worked for 10 years as a choreographer for Hersheypark, has taught at both Purchase University and Queensborough College, has worked with studios teaching master classes and competition numbers and has worked as a sub at Broadway Dance Center in Manhattan.
To say Goubran is an accomplished dancer is an understatement. But where she has found herself today, sharing the gift of dance with the children of Hicksville, stems from her work as children’s director for Graffiti Community Ministries, a 501(c)(3) church, in New York City, helping to develop enrichment programs, like dance, for at-risk children.
Inspired by her work with Graffiti, Goubran founded her own nonprofit organization, Gotta Serve—within that, her program Gotta Dance—in 2012.
The studio, located at 24 E. Nicholai St., is a shared space with Long Island Abundant Life Church and Centro Evangelistico Assembly of God. Movable mirrored walls constructed by Goubran’s father break up the open floor into two separate dance spaces and are then pushed away to create one large studio perfect for dancing or church congregations.
Operating three days a week, Gotta Dance offers children of all ages the opportunity to learn jazz, tap, ballet, contemporary and hip-hop during the school year, complete with an original Christmas musical written by Goubran herself, and a recital at the end of the year to showcase everything the children have learned.
With the help of her husband Kareem, who is an associate pastor, director of adult ministry and, like his wife, an activist with Graffiti, Gotta Serve and it’s dance program have afforded local children not only the chance to participate in a recreational activity, but also the chance to serve the community around them.
Along with monthly visits to nursing homes, the nonprofit partners with local charities to fundraise and serve those who need it most. Gotta Dance also has a mentorship program, allowing teens to work as student-teachers and gain the experience of teaching children the art of dance.
“Seeing the kids really grow and develop as individuals in the program, really seeing them find their own sense of their own gifts and their own talents and really be able to then share them with others,” mused Goubran of what makes her nonprofit worthwhile. “Those two things, that’s the most rewarding.”
For more information about Gotta Dance, visit www.gotta-dance.org.