Dancing For A Cause

Tanjim Rahman was a new kid from the Bronx who moved to Plano during the most crucial years of a young adult’s life – high school. But he soon discovered a sense of belonging and community through the art of dance and ultimately founded Dancing for a Cause.

Not only was dance the precursor to making friends in a new place as a teenager, Tanjim found purpose and developed life skills. The now 24-year-old’s non-profit dance organization at Parker Road and Custer Road brings people together through dance while also serving as a positive influence in the community.

“We’ve developed a bridge because when you are young, you either find a mentor or a mentor finds you or you find friends to grow with — hopefully in the right direction,” he said. “Dance is that medium that bonds people together.”

Tanjim Rahman, founder of Dancing for a Cause // photos Jenice Johnson Williams

Tanjim founded Dancing for a Cause originally as a dance club in 2008 at the nudging of his aerobics teacher, Rikki Endsley, at Plano East Senior High School. She noticed how much he loved to dance and insisted he should create a hip-hop club. But Tanjim didn’t want to create a club just for the sake of creating one. He said dancing meant more to him and wanted the club to have a purpose. The concept caught on through friends at other local schools, and soon several leaders started clubs of their own.

“It was amazing to me to see all the kids’ growth and how my peers have grown together and dance was our bond. You would see the nerdy kid become friends with the popular girl in school,” he said. “All of these different cliques that are so evident in high school just did not exist because when you are at DFC, you are a dancer and you are a student and growing. It takes everything away from the stereotypes of the real world.”

Not only that, but DFC encourages leadership skills right from the beginning. Each of its clubs has a president and officers; the leadership team receives regular training and teaching from DFC directors. The clubs also help fundraise for charities such as St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital, Hallie’s Heroes, Child’s Play Charity and others.

Being a member of DFC’s dance studio/community center also means access to classes such as breaking, popping, krumping, freestyle, mini choreography, contemporary and pop-up classes that special instructors drop in to teach. There is no age requirement, though a 2-year-old might require different teaching methods, of course. While Tanjim said he’s seen a 4-year-old knock it out of the park, typically DFC’s center has members 14 to 22 years old with the majority being ages 16 to 20. No previous training is required — folks just have to really love to dance.

Tanjim said DFC is a huge learning tool for him personally, first about how things work in the non-profit sector and second, on the for-profit side managing a Mooyah Burger in Plano. All of this helps with his classes as he pursues a general business degree, builds his resume and hones skills for his own businesses one day.

DFC staff is also finding that same benefit to its schooling as well. Amy Nguyen, event coordinator, is majoring in event planning and public relations at Collin College Spring Creek campus. As a competing dancer, DFC broadened her dance capabilities. In addition, her leadership role has improved her people skills and networking.

“I love setting up events — it’s such a good cause and brings me joy to donate to those in need,” Amy said.

Student director Kevin Middleton, also attending Collin College, said DFC helped him with his leadership skills and gave him a sense of belonging. He also found that his immersion in the diverse group at DFC broadened his cultural outlook years after being a Hurricane Katrina transplant from New Orleans.

“DFC let me be authentic to who I was. It was my first sense of family. These people are the people that will still be in my life years from now,” Kevin said. “There are very diverse beliefs, but we unite in the name of dance. They are different than me, yet we are the same.”

Dancing for a Cause >
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