Ava and Sophia Paley love to dance, but they had to gather up all of their shoes and costumes.
“We realized we had so many dance shoes and costumes just piling up in our closets,” Ava said. “We didn’t really know what to do with this.”
Following their mother’s suggestion to find a way to donate them, the two sisters came up with a way to collect gently used stuff and distribute them to young dancers in need.
The program has since grown to help more than 30,000 young people around the world.
“It’s really shown me there’s a huge need out there,” Ava said. “How, really, a pair of ballet shoes or a pair of tap shoes can change a dancer’s life.”
The pink bins with the Donate 2 Dance logo have become a familiar sight at dance studios around the city. We found them at Studio Maestro on the Upper West Side, where the two sisters were tapping away in a class taught by Broadway veteran Gail Crutchfield as part of her Shuffles curriculum focused on tap dancing.
The charity they started is “really all about dancers helping dancers,” Sophia said.
“We want to give every dancer the chance to dance,” Ava said. “We think that’s very important.”
Almost four years after they started, the joy of the recipients has become obvious. What began as a local effort now encompasses more than 300 organizations all over the world.
“Our website has a contact button, and it has all of our information and all of our partners,” Sophia said.
The tech-savvy teens found a way to broaden their efforts even further, lending their expertise to kids in Ghana by connecting on Zoom.
“We’ve been teaching them tap,” Ava said. “And actually, we were able to send them 50 new pairs of Capezio tap shoes.”
The Paleys want others everywhere to have the same sense of belonging they enjoy tap dancing at Shuffles.
“We want everyone to have that sense of community and that confidence on stage,” Ava said.
Visit Donate2Dance.org for more information.
Ex-Brit turned Manhattan resident since 2008.