DancEsteem began in 1996 when founder and director Takami Craddock began teaching classes to children in San Francisco. She started with three pre-kindergarten students at Noe Valley Ministry after asking friends if anyone was interested in dance classes for their kids. The young dancers and families loved the classes, and found them to be refreshingly different from other programs. Over time they helped her grow her program by referring classes to their friends, and so on, and quite rapidly the program expanded through referrals and word of mouth. Today DancEsteem has more than 200 families in the program and a studio on Church Street.
Takami’s original three students are now out of college after having danced at MoBu through high school, many of them returning during summers to teach at DancEsteem’s summer camp. Some of Takami’s students from the early years are now trying out careers as professional dancers; most, if not all, have held onto their love of dance and continue dancing to this day.
Going on two decades now Takami and several other dance teachers continue to teach generations of young dancers at MoBu Dance Studio in the Noe Valley district. Classes range from ballet, to hip-hop, to contemporary, so the young student gains a breadth of dance styles. DancEsteem offers 15 to 18 week classes two times a year (fall and winter/spring) and puts on a professionally produced annual performance each spring. MoBu Dance Studio also offers a popular summer camp and a Special Exchange Program for eligible students.
Children are natural dancers. They dance with imagination all the time. My mission is for these young dancers to develop their own identity and creativity through movement (dance). If they find themselves loving dance, they will find self-confidence and self-esteem in their own way and in their own time. For this mission I have created a method using three different types of dances. They include Creative Movement, Ballet and Modern dance.– Takami Craddock (DancEsteem Director)
We Teach 3 Types of Dance Methods
Creative Movement techniques help children to discover body awareness and movement vocabulary by themselves. I let them improvise using many suggestive images and cues and also let them create their own images to dance to. They will learn that we are all different in very special ways. We often work as a group so that they have an opportunity to collaborate and share in their creativity. In this section, we watch and critique each other. This way the children are able to develop a thought process in observing dance. Students learn how to give and receive constructive, positive and respectfully honest feedback which builds confidence while helping kids improve, a life-skill they will use in many other contexts.
Ballet is always a basic foundation of any kind of dance. We learn the fundamentals of body awareness and the body line at the bar lesson.
Contemporary Dance technique brings more dynamics, muscular movement and steps into the movement. Takami’s Contemporary classes are a mix of many dance traditions and disciplines, from pop to Butoh to modern to jazz, and can’t be categorized because it is constantly evolving with essences of styles and disciplines she studied and practiced in her own life as a student and then professional dancer. Students in class are encouraged to work together and a rapport is built among dancers and directly between each student and the teacher.
There is a visible progression of learning and skill acquisition that happens over time in MoBu’s Contemporary classes; once dancers become Teens in the program, they begin to participate in developing choreography collaboratively with Teacher Takami in the various Teen Company classes. Older students are also encouraged to become teaching assistants at summer camps and in classes during the regular year which helps them grow and develop skills as mentors to younger dancers.
Our Dance Philosophy
Most students take a class once a week. Classes are offered by grade, not by level. In other studios, students who take one class a week might be called “recreational dancers,” but at DancEsteem we don’t think that way because you really never know how these dancers will develop over time. When they grow in the program and find the love of dance they often want to dance more, and then we provide as much support as we can and recommend those students start taking multiple classes.
DancEsteem students will become future adults with all kinds of interests and careers. Our service is to create a love for dance at any age. If you can find love or interest in any activity then you can build your self-esteem. This often produces a better person and harder worker. We teach and show our students that dancing is good for self-esteem. That is why we teach not only technique, but also improvisation and creative dance. This allows dancers to discover their body and creativity through movement and group work, and we see that this brings so much joy to the dancer. To dance it is not necessary to have a perfect body or be able to perform the choreography perfectly; it’s much deeper than that. And at MoBu it’s definitely not about competition. Now we have many graduate students that have grown up in the program and have gone onto college programs where they were able to keep dancing. Some of them are trying to become professional dancers, others have careers in other areas but are keeping dance alive in their lives in all different ways.You never know what might happen when you begin the journey, but at MoBu we believe we are helping our dancers discover the love of movement while building and a strong sense of self and discipline through dance.
Learn More …
Interested in joining DancEsteem, want to take classes, or have more questions—contact MoBu Dance Studio.
Learn more by downloading our DancEsteem brochure.
Download DancEsteem’s Student Agreement.
Learn about our DancEsteem teachers.
View our DancEsteem gallery that captures photos of performances over the years.
See the dance schedule to find class times, types of dance classes offered, and class fees per period.
Learn about our special international exchange program.