The Wooden Floor in Santa Ana offers students higher education through dance

The Wooden Floor students from left Jasmine Lopez, Paola Ross, and Daniela Salazar, in rehearsal in 2021.
(Sarah Delgado)

Students will be given the chance to dance their way to higher education when the nationally recognized nonprofit the Wooden Floor holds its annual auditions Oct. 16.

The nonprofit serves students with financial need at no charge. The average family of five at the Wooden Floor has an annual household income of about $42,420, which is classified as low income in Orange County. More than 150 alumni of the organization are currently enrolled in colleges, and some receive merit-based college scholarships from the Wooden Floor.

“Our annual auditions mark the day these students take the first step toward a bright and successful future,” the Wooden Floor chief executive Dawn S. Reese said in a statement.


Founded in 1983, the Wooden Floor is not just a dance studio. Children do not need dance experience nor are they required to have anything prepared for the audition. The privately funded creative youth development organization is dedicated to serving those with financial need at no charge in order to empower underserved students through its year-round holistic model.

The organization chooses dance education and performance as the core of its program because of the transformational elements of the medium.

In addition to free dance education and performance opportunities, families participating in the Wooden Floor program also receive access to free tutoring and college and career readiness workshops, and family counseling and parent workshops. The organization serves 475 students. Since 2005, 100% of their seniors have graduated from high school on time and immediately enrolled in higher education, according to the nonprofit.

“We make a 10‑year commitment to boys and girls in third through 12th grade and on to college enrollment. Most are the first in their families to enroll in higher education and they effectively become change-agents in their community,” said Reese.

Hopeful students of the Wooden Floor in the organization's last in-person audition in 2019.
(Courtesy of Kris Anderson of the Wooden Floor)

The annual auditions come on the heels of the organization’s three-week-long community engagement program, Dance Free Weeks, when children from Orange County’s most disadvantaged elementary schools are given free week-long dance instruction workshops.

The Wooden Floor particularly seeks out potential students in Title I elementary schools prior to its auditions. Previous years have seen over 300 students try out, which the Wooden Floor says speaks to the growing need in Orange County.

Last year, auditions were held virtually, but this year they will return in person. Taking place at the Wooden Floor in Santa Ana on North Main Street auditions will be held from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 16.

Potential candidates will have an enthusiasm for movement, a financial need and be in the third through fifth grades and 8 to 10 years old on or before Oct. 16. While walk-ins are welcome, reservations are highly recommended and can be made by calling (714) 541-8314, ext. 128 or visiting Students in line by 1:30 p.m. are guaranteed to audition.

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