The Dance Institute of Washington is more than a dance school. It has improved the lives of D.C. youths for 30 years.

The DIW was founded by veteran dancer Fabian Barnes in 1987. The Seattle, Washington born Barnes discovered his love for dance at age 11. At 19 he was made an apprentice at the Dance Theatre of Harlem in New York; where he quickly rose to the rank of soloist. During his 15 years there, Barnes performed in many shows, and toured extensively. In 1987 when Barnes was in D.C. on a seasonal break, he founded the Dance Institute of Washington. His goal was to develop talent, confidence and discipline among youths through dance; just as it had done for him.

Sadly Barnes passed away in 2016 at the young age of 56. His mission continues through the teachers and students at the DIW. Kahina Hayes, School Director, and Ashante Green, Marketing and Communications Manager, teach and empower each student (ages 4 to 18). "Fabian wished to help the youth, and have them learn more about themselves," said Green. "We are very excited to continue his legacy."

"Fabian was more than a founder to us. He was an artistic visionary in the community," said Hayes. "He worked with some of the landmark leading arts organizations throughout D.C., Maryland, and Virginia. We're continuing the incredible work he's done."

The most important part of that work is giving students the skills and confidence they need to flourish. "The Dance Institute of Washington has done so much for me as a dancer and as a person," said Faith Wilson, 16. "It's lifted my spirit many times outside the studio. The humanity here is amazing. You won't find it anywhere else." Fabian Barnes' legacy lives on.

This article is sponsored by the Dance Institute of Washington.

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