CDC History & Philosophy


Anne Green Gilbert founded the Creative Dance Center in 1981. Having danced her whole life, experiencing the positive and sometimes not so positive aspects of studying dance, Anne wanted to create a school that not only developed dancers with skill and technique but also nurtured the creative possibilities within.

  • A school that balanced the mastery of movement with the artistry of expression.
  • A school where students learned to dance and danced to learn.
  • A school that would make teaching and learning a joyful and meaningful experience for teachers and students.
  • A school that taught people, not just dance steps.

The more closely we consider the elaborate interplay of brain and body, the more clearly one compelling theme emerges: Movement is essential to learning. Movement awakens and activates many of our mental capacities.
~Carla Hannaford, Ph.D.

In 1981 CDC’ s first home was in the Russian Center on Capitol Hill. Anne had previously directed the Dance Theatre Seattle Children’ s Program for five years in that location. Winter of 1982 brought growth and change as Anne moved the Creative Dance Center to the former Lake City Elementary School and filed for incorporation and nonprofit status. The Creative Dance Center was granted 501(c)(3) nonprofit status in February 1983. CDC moved to the former Jane Addams Middle School in the fall of 1984 and remained there until the summer of 1995 when CDC relocated to the Haller Lake Community Club, its present location.

When the Creative Dance Center first opened its doors to the community, it offered twenty classes to 100 students. Today there are over thirty-five classes offered to 450 students, infants through adults. The teaching philosophy at CDC has evolved to include the BrainDance and is now a nationally and internationally recognized teaching methodology called Brain-Compatible Dance Education.

  • Brain-Compatible Dance Education: A structured methodology for teaching dance using a lesson plan and strategies that create an environment in which the brain is ready, willing, and able to learn. This holistic approach develops every student into a whole dancer as skilled technician, critical thinker, collaborator, and creator.
  • BrainDance: A sequential and holistic exercise based on the developmental movement patterns infants move through during their first year and we continue refining throughout our lives. The BrainDance patterns are: Breath, Tactile, Core- Distal, Head-Tail, Upper-Lower, Body Side, Cross Lateral, Eye-Tracking, and Vestibular. The BrainDance integrates mind and body and may be adapted for all ages and abilities. At the Creative Dance Center the BrainDance is done, in many variations, as a warm-up in every class.

Anne Green Gilbert retired as CDC Director and Artistic Director of Kaleidoscope Dance Company in July 2014. She continues to teach classes at CDC and through her teaching, books, DVDs, and the Summer Dance Institute for Teachers she has touched the lives of thousands of students and educators. The Creative Dance Center is now under the Directorship of Terry Goetz; Anna Mansbridge is the Artistic Director of Kaleidoscope Dance Company. Terry and Anna have worked and trained with Anne Green Gilbert since the 1990's and are thrilled to maintain and develop the school and dance company which were the focus of Anne's life for 33 years. Terry and Anna share the same passion and belief that dance can change lives and deepen learning.

The Creative Dance Center offers classes for infants through adults.

  • Our Early Childhood Program specifically targets the critical years of zero to five. Classes are multi-sensory, developmentally appropriate, creative, and fun!
  • Our Children and Teens Program offers a variety of classes, including ballet and modern, for the serious dance student as well as those who want fun, exercise, and the chance to develop dance and movement skills in a non-threatening and positive environment.
  • Our Adult Program welcomes novice and experienced dancers. Whether you want to develop or fine-tune dance skills, foster creative growth, or strengthen body and mind, the Creative Dance Center’ s Adult Program has the right class for you.

We believe that students who have the chance to experience dance in a joyful way will make it part of their lives. In this way CDC is more than a dance school. It is a place where a person can develop his or her dance technique and creative potential in a warm, positive, and non-competitive atmosphere. At CDC our students learn to dance and dance to learn!

The truest expression of a people is in its dance and in its music. Bodies never lie.
~Agnes De Mille

Multi-Sensory Learning at the Creative Dance Center

Our classes are rich in multi-sensory experiences. We believe that strengthening cognitive, social, and emotional skills is just as important as developing strong and healthy bodies.

At CDC, our students:

  • are given the opportunity to explore and learn together, creating a special time for bonding and building social skills
  • practice fundamental movement patterns (BrainDance) and dance skills; learn names of body parts and anatomical structures, and develop correct alignment
  • respond to a variety of music in a joyful way while exploring musical concepts
  • learn movement vocabulary; connect words with movements, and discuss and evaluate choreography
  • move through space with ease and safety; explore relationships between people and objects; copy movements and practice patterns that increase proprioception-the body's sense of itself in space
  • learn movement patterns and sequences; solve problems through movement; create and perform movement phrases and dances to metered music and counts
  • explore opposing dance concepts that expand the emotional and physical repertoire; reflect on feelings generated through movement

We like to think of our dance classes as "serious fun." At CDC the emphasis is on education and enjoyment.