Dan Barris

Dan Barris, or “Mr. Dan” as he is affectionately referred to by his students, has been working in the dance competition industry for over 15 years. Originally from Maine, Dan began his performing career at age 7, appearing in professional regional and touring productions throughout New England.After graduating with a Bachelor of Science degree in Public Relations, Advertising, and Developmental Psychology, with a minor in Musical Theatre, from Emerson College in Boston, Dan eventually found his way to the central New Jersey area where he has been an owner and director of three successful dance studios. He worked with the Pediatric AIDS Foundation and Council of the Arts to create a teaching program for hearing impaired students. Dan has also conducted master classes for dance organizations and studios across the US, judged for numerous state scholastic pageants, and directed large and small dance competitions from coast to coast. Dan began noticing that an essential component of dance education was lacking in the competition scene. Students weren’t being given the opportunity to truly benefit from being critiqued by a professional beyond receiving a score on a piece of paper. With that in mind, Dancers Inc. was founded to give students the chance to perform, be adjudicated, and then work with the judges one-on-one in class the next day all in one weekend. Dancers Inc. combines performing and learning with the goal of motivating students and teachers alike to experience the world beyond their studio walls. For the past six years, Dan has expanded that motivation by allowing students to see how they can benefit their communities and beyond as artists. Dancers Inc. has donated thousands of dollars in scholarships and awards through the Starmite Foundation and America’s Junior Miss Scholarship Program and has raised over $50,000 to benefit victims of Hurricane Katrina through the annual event “Dance Relief.” Dancers Inc. created its own Title Award program which allows individual dancers to perform, assist faculty, meet new people and represent Dancers Inc. while traveling to events across the country. In addition to directing Dancers Inc., Dan is the President of United Dance Merchants of America and continues to judge on the national pageant circuit. He received a Tribute Award for his charitable work from the Starmite Foundation, and while he is expanding Dancers Inc. to new communities across the country, he still finds the time to teach his tap students each week.“We can all get an award,” he says, “but inspiring a young student to want to dance better is a much more valuable experience.”