August 16, 2011

Profile: Jackie Rotman

Why this teen started her own dance organization, and how it's growing.

Shelby: Check it out. Ninteen-year-old Jackie Rotman is a mover and a shaker. She dances… Teaches… And runs a program that gives free hip-hop dance lessons to young people.

Jackie Rotman: Our mission with Everybody Dance Now is to not just help people learn the dance steps but to really help them grow as individuals. We started to help kids through dance to cultivate self esteem, learn about their bodies and establish healthy lifestyles and to express themselves artistically.

“I think it has helped me a lot because I have more confidence in myself in, like, dancing in front of people.”

“It helps me a lot. I learn a lot of new things from the teachers and I really like it.”

Shelby: Jackie started her organization, Everybody Dance Now, or EDN, when she was just 14 years old. She was inspired while dancing in a show for disabled teens.

Jackie: We invited the people in the audience to come up on stage and dance with us, and it ended up being this incredible experience because we had, you know, people dancing with their friends and just being so happy to express themselves and having this performance opportunity and this chance to move. And that really illuminated to me, just seeing how happy they were from dancing and performing, which is something that I love so much.

Shelby: She turned that love of dance into a business, splitting her time between high school and meetings. And all that work paid off last year when EDN was featured on the hit TV show America’s Best Dance Crew. They gave EDN a $10,000 donation, and gave Jackie the exposure to help grow her organization nationwide.

EDN now has eleven chapters throughout the U.S. and Canada. To run all those programs, Jackie trains other teens to teach dance.

“I’ve been with EDN for about 8 months now. I’m a leader in training now. Pretty soon, I’ll be promoted.”

Jackie: The kids are so amazing. It’s so nice because we’ve made an open environment where they can come and vent themselves. There’s, like, a no-hate zone and they can talk to me about anything.

Shelby: In the past five years, EDN has taught hip-hop dance to thousands of young people who wouldn’t have been able to afford lessons. Jackie hopes that dancing will give young people a way to express themselves creatively.

Jackie: Whatever it is you’re going through — you’re angry or you’re happy, you love someone — you really can just express that through movement in such a beautiful way. I think dancing is just another way of connecting with what it means to be human.

Shelby: This summer, EDN dance instructors flew to Uganda to teach hip-hop dancing to young people. Jackie hopes to expand EDN and finish her degree in international relations at Stanford.

So you think you can dance? Shimmy over to our dance quiz at and find out if you could be center stage.


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