Mariel Briget Hidary was born on November 29, 1983 in Brooklyn, NY, the first girl to a family of four boys. Her first name was inspired by Mariel Hemmingway and her middle name is from her grandmother Betty Blanche Beda. She attended Yeshiva of Flatbush until 11th grade and graduated Ilan High School. After graduating from Kingsborogh Community College, Mariel was enrolled at the Gallatin School of New York University majoring in Dance Therapy. Mariel died tragically on December 31, 2006 in a road accident while on vacation in South Africa.
Mariel believed in the potential of every child. She believed in the power of movement and expression to break old boundaries and affliction. Mariel inspired all those around her not just in the moment, but in profound ways that changed people’s lives.
Mariel was a passionate dancer since she was a little girl. As she grew into her teenage years she began to share her passion with others through teaching. She realized her dream of opening a school for dance to inspire young and old to express themselves through movement. Mariel named the school Orange Dance Studio.For her, orange was the color of energy.
Mariel started the school in her home living room. Soon there were far too many students for even this spacious area and she started teaching her classes in the JCC. Well over six hundred girls have trained at Orange Dance Studio since its founding and many of the schools current teaching assistants received their first dance training at the studio.
Mariel found so much joy in each student’s unique, individual qualities that she wanted to be more than just a teacher but a mentor who they all truly looked up to. She would take them for ice cream and hang out with them to show how proud she was. At the end of every summer she took the time to sit and hand write each girl a personal letter about what they meant to her and what she learned from them, something they all cherished very deeply.
Mariel believed in the potential of each young girl. Her studio is not about competition – it is about expression. Orange Dance lifts each girl to new heights of self-esteem that carries over well beyond the dance recital.
Each summer season of Orange Dance fuses hip-hop with another genre of music. Past fusions have brought in Latin, reggae, classical and now this year rock ‘n roll. These fusions expressed Mariel’s belief in the unity of all humans and cultures. Mariel broke though old stereotypes to accept all people as equal and deserving of self-expression and identity.
In addition to founding the school, Mariel began training to become a dance therapist to bring the power of dance to those suffering from a range of conditions. Through the magic of movement, she would help these individuals in ways no medicine could.
we all share called life,
all we have
is one another to help
pull us through the challenges”
-Mariel Hidary, 2005