Takami began teaching 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 two studio locations in Noe Valley, San Francisco.
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. Classes range from ballet, hip-hop, and contemporary, providing the young student with a breadth of dance styles to learn.
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 Programfor 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 type of dances — Creative Movement, Ballet and Modern dance."
Creative Movement techniques help children to discover body awareness and movement vocabulary by themselves. We let them improvise using many suggestive images and cues to create their own images to dance to. They will learn that we are all different in special ways. We often work as a group so that everyone has an opportunity to collaborate and share their creativity. In this phase, we watch and critique each other so children can develop a thought process when 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 mix many dance traditions and disciplines, from hip-hop to butoh, modern to jazz, but can’t be categorized because it's constantly evolving with essences of styles and disciplines she studied and practiced in her own life as a student and professional dancer. Students are encouraged to work together and rapport is developed among them 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 develop choreography collaboratively with teachers in the various Teen Company classes. Older students are 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.
MoBu is not about competition. It is not necessary to have a perfect body or perform the choreography perfectly. It’s much deeper than that. If you can find love or interest in any activity you build self-esteem and other positive traits like confidence, creativity, and joy.
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 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 take more classes.
Our service is to create a love for dance at any age and show our students that dancing is good for self-esteem. We teach not only technique but also improvisation and creative dance through movement.
DancEsteem students will become future adults with all kinds of interests and careers. We have many graduate students that have grown up in the program and have gone onto college programs where they continue to dance. Some of them are trying to become professional dancers. Others have careers in various areas but keep dance alive in their lives in different ways. You never know what might happen when you begin the journey, but at MoBu we help our dancers discover the love of movement and develop a strong sense of self and discipline.