Kiva Dawson

Kiva Dawson
Love Affair With Dance

“Dancing is music made visible.” ~ George Balanchine

“To me, the body parts are instruments put together by the heart and conducted by the soul. I tell my kids, create a sound for your body, create a style for yourself.” ~ Luigi Faccuito

Falling In Love With Ballet

Pretty much the song, “At the Ballet,” from “A Chorus Line,” played in my apartment in Santa Monica, ‘til the record warped. Even as a young girl, the stories of how much going to the ballet and taking class meant to the women struck me at my 10 year old core. My father had died and my now single mom was doing her best to raise me on her own. I sought a home at the barre, literally. Beginning my pre-professional ballet training under the guidance of Yvonne Mounsey (Ballet Russe and New York City Ballet) and Rosemary Valaire (The Royal Ballet of London) at their Westside Ballet School of Santa Monica. I was blessed to be on a full-scholarship for the entirety of my training there and was given the perfect mix of ballet pedagogy, while also making memories and friends that have lasted our lifetimes. My first summer intensive audition was for The School of The Pennsylvania Ballet, at the time under the direction of Lupe Serrano (American Ballet Theatre) I was given a full-scholarship to study there and embarked on my first summer intensive in Philadelphia.  Though technically proficient, I was often told that it was my emotional connection and how I danced, which we know to be…the falling in love with ballet.

The Heartbreak

Between the ages of 15-16, I had another amazing opportunity to study on Full Scholarship at The School of Pennsylvania Ballet as a Trainee, however at the time my mom, who was in Santa Monica, became gravely ill and it was decided that I return to California. During that time and most likely due to stress, my body began to defy me and one day I woke up not being able to move my left leg. I was told I would “never dance again,” and so began the heartbreak. This is not uncommon, nor is my story much different than A LOT of women I have met and talked to, fortunately for me, even though I originally felt as if my whole world had been shattered, I found solace in watching music videos and like many teen-agers, I did my best to mimic the moves. My body had changed. I maintained the body awareness of a ballerina but my body had grown into puberty proportions. I felt ashamed to go to classes anymore and it wasn’t until taking a jazz class, years later at Santa Monica College that it occurred to me that maybe I could dance again, if I could just learn to move differently.



Then, and Now…


Through supportive friends who were in the commercial dance community, I ended up finding my way into my first music videos and securing my first dance agent. I was honored to work with so many iconic choreographers on various film, television and stage productions, namely; Patricia Birch, John Carrafa, Ryan Heffington, Keith Young, Jamie King, Robin Antin (Pussycat Dolls) Toni Basil, Alex Magno, Toledo, AC Ciulla, Ryan Kasprzak and Daniel Ezralow. I was never able to show my late Mother that I overcame the obstacle of my injury and my own self-doubt, yet in some way the dance community became my extended family and that safe space, empathy and learning curve is what has continued to guide me in wanting to share the healing power of dance.

Kiva Dawson


I moved to New York City 10 years ago. Blessed to be a Mom. I was introduced to the vast dance/fitness movement, namely Louis Van Amstel’s LaBlast®. Continuing to dance and act professionally, I was meeting more and more women in different scenarios who would tell me their journey towards, away and back to ballet class, I started thinking about BunsOut® and what it could be. I am inspired by the stories I have heard from people, who for whatever reasons had to let-go of their ballet aspirations, and yet, they still came to class, wanting to move with freedom. I wanted to reach ALL types of women and men too (I have a dancing son, after-all) I began to develop BunsOut® thanks to Athleta Flatiron Studio providing the forum. In 9 months I have seen a room full of strangers, now acquaintances or friends, move in ballet form to all types of music. I have seen dancers coming back from injuries and women who for most of their life thought they could never dance and now they are!

BunsOut® is about self-nurturing. It’s about trying something that might be new. It’s about challenging the misconceptions and expectations whether in our society or self-imposed. It’s about not taking ourselves so seriously when the brain wants to judge. It’s about injury prevention and body acceptance. Its about fitness, wellness, community and we really do sweat!

To quote the aspirational dance icon and teacher, Luigi Faccuito, “Never Stop Moving.”