Who We Are

Our mission

World Dance for Humanity bridges cultures through movement and helps people in need by supporting small, sustainable, grassroots projects locally and in the developing world. All charitable donations and class fees go to underserved communities where a small amount of money can inspire hope and change lives, and where we can develop deep connections to the people we serve.

World Dance was founded in 2010 in Santa Barbara by dancer, anthropologist and aid worker Janet Reineck. It started as a low-cost exercise class that would bring together the best of world dance and music to get people in shape and inspired. But it has become much more than that. World Dance for Humanity is now a nonprofit organization supported by an enthusiastic community of dancers and donors who come together to build a deep connection with each other and with communities in distant lands.

Between 2010 and 2013 we supported grassroots projects in Nepal, Kenya, Ghana, Liberia, Uganda, and gave grants to Santa Barbara charities. In the Spring of 2013 we inherited the projects begun in Rwanda by Goats for Life, a Santa Barbara-based nonprofit that had been doing life-saving work in that country for six years. We have seen a real shift in the mindset in the Rwanda communities, as families begin to believe in the future, and work for a sustainable livelihood.

We are now helping 9,021 people in 25 rural Rwandan cooperatives left divided and destitute by the 1994 genocide. We also continue to support projects in our local community. Our work is simple, direct, and impactful. And every dollar contributed through class or donated helps ease suffering and build new lives, thanks to a donation which has covered our minimal administrative expenses.

Since 2013, we have provided these communities with:

  • Annual student stipends for 167 students (primary school, secondary school, and college)
  • 953 goats, 49 full-grown pregnant cows, and 100 chickens
  • Six parcels of farmland
  • Training in business, agriculture, leadership, and community management
  • Funding for 3 sewing businesses, 3 bakeries, a water project, café, fish farming project, and nursery school
  • Health insurance for 600 people each year who cannot afford the $4 annual fee
  • Mattresses for people sleeping on the ground and solar lights for people with no electricity

Meet World Dance Instructor and WD4H Executive Director, Janet Reineck, PhD

gahini-janetJanet Reineck has brought her background in dance and humanitarian aid together to create World Dance for Humanity. Her background in ballet and modern dance led to an interest in ethnic dancing in college and she studied, performed and taught Balkan dance in the U.S. and Europe during the 1970s. As a member of the Los Angeles-based Aman International Dance touring company, Janet performed the dances of the Middle East, Africa and Central Asia.

Janet earned her Bachelors in Ethnic Arts and a Master’s degree in Dance Ethnology from UCLA, and a PhD in Anthropology from the University of California, Berkeley. She lived in Kosovo (former Yugoslavia) for eight years, first conducting research, then as the director of rural development projects for Oxfam, International Rescue Committee, and George Soros’ Open Society Institute. Returning to Santa Barbara in 1997, Janet became a professional fundraiser, directing development efforts for local charities.

Her goal in creating World Dance Workout is to share the joy of international music and dance while serving people in need.