Growing up in New York City, Samuel Pott never attended summer dance camp. “I didn’t start dancing until I was in college, actually, which is exceptionally late for a dancer.” Clearly not too late, though. Pott went on to dance as a soloist with The Martha Graham Company and is now the Artistic Director of Nimbus Dance Works, a concert dance company and school based in Jersey City. Like many other professional companies, Nimbus also offers a performing arts camp for children. JC SummerArts gives campers the opportunity to work with top-tier artists in a fun, relaxed environment, and this year, enjoy a uniquely local twist to the summer camp experience.
“When I started Nimbus in Jersey City, the idea was to bridge together the world of professional concert dance with the community,” says Pott. “We’ve embraced that same idea this year with camp. Our theme weeks celebrate what makes Jersey City so great. That is our diverse culture, our dancers, our close proximity to New York City and our great community.” Here are more details on what will be featured at the six-week arts camp:
Week One presents Showbiz Essentials, with a tribute to the Bob Fosse classic “All That Jazz.” It’s taught by Theresa Coombe-Mannino, who danced in the Broadway National tours of “Dirty Dancing” and “Chicago the Musical.” “We’re super excited to have her,” says Pott. She will teach intensive classes in ballet and jazz dance, along with excerpts from popular Fosse routines.
Week Two highlights Indian Dance, Bollywood and Panchatantra with special guests from local Indian Dance Company Surati. Campers will move to the rhythms of Bhangra and Bollywood dance while studying and bringing to life the classic stories of Panchatantra in theater classes.
Week Three features Latin American Music, Dance & Stories with Segunda Quimbamba, a local Puerto Rican Folkloric Music and Dance ensemble. Kids will drum and dance along to the percussion-driven bomba and plena music of Puerto Rico.
Week Four is Hip Hop Week, with New York-based performers Elena Valls and Chazz Giovanni Bruce teaching the multiple art forms that encompass hip hop culture. “Elena dances with Nimbus and is extraordinarily talented,” says Pott. She’ll teach campers the latest and greatest hip hop moves, while Bruce will guide kids through explorations in poetry, spoken word performance and street theater.
Week Five explores Alice in Wonderland in Dance, Theater & Music, with the children learning ballet routines, rehearsing scenes and building characters. They’ll spend the week working intensively with artists to stage an Alice in Wonderland-themed show at the end of the week that encompasses dance, theater and music.
Week Six covers all things Michael Jackson with a tribute to the King of Pop and his influence over dance, music and theater. Elena Valls and Chazz Giovanni Bruce return to teach some of his famous moves (moonwalk, anyone?), along with pop-locking and hip hop styles inspired by him. Theater and singing classes round out the curriculum.
“I am really excited about this summer camp season for two reasons,” says Pott. “One, the caliber of the artists involved who will be teaching our students, but also the programming that is really a celebration of our unique community in Jersey City. These kids are going to grow creatively and also expand their boundaries of cultural awareness and understanding. That’s been my mission, in the arts, to provide these experiences hand in hand. I am hoping kids from all over New Jersey come join us.”
JC SummerArts 2016 is a full-day performing arts camp for kids ages 6-10, with weekly sessions from July 18 through August 26. Jersey City Children’s Theater will conduct the afternoon theater classes and local music educator Andi Gunden will assist with musical instruction. A Junior program is also available for children ages 3-5. For more information, call 201-377-0718 or visit the website.