For ages 10-Young Adult. Participants study hip-hop (primarily) as well as contemporary and other dance styles, meeting once or twice a week during the school year. Juniors (ages 10-14) meet Thursdays 6:30-8:30pm; Seniors (ages 14+) meet Saturdays 12:30-4pm. Talented dancers who are committed to their craft and willing to work hard also have an opportunity (over time) to be invited to join our Elite traveling dance team, and perform in outside venues. Led by expert instructors, Next Level Dancers (NLD) participants learn challenging choreography and develop themselves as dancers with physical conditioning, performance training that incorporates emotional investment and social justice messages as well as technique, and opportunities to choreograph their own work. Since 2006, Lead Instructor Mickey Sakai has been helping our young dancers find their voices, using dance to tell their own stories and advocate for themselves.
In addition to performing at community events (such as Denim Day) and bi-annual showcases, NLD has performed in the Trinity International Hip Hop Conference in Hartford, Connecticut, and the Garner Arts Festival in Garnerville, NY, among other venues; and they are regularly featured at Momma’s Hip Hop Kitchen at Hostos Center for Arts and Culture, an event which serves as a social justice community-organizing platform for women of Color.
NLD often kicks off the school year with an end-of-summer Academy, offering returning as well as prospective new participants a chance to brush up on skills, to drill, and to work with guest artists on specific techniques such as breaking, popping and locking, Afro beats, dancing in heels, ballet and more.
Once or twice a year the most dedicated dancers are invited to attend overnight retreats about an hour upstate, where, with the help of a generous space grant, they are able to stay in a large farmhouse on a beautiful lake-side property. Here they focus deeply on their craft and well as “inside work” — personal reflection, team building, overcoming insecurities, setting personal and squad goals, and filming short videos.
Want to join NLD? Visit Fall 2020/Current Programs and complete the 2020-21 enrollment form (for the Program as a whole) online, and select the appropriate age group and level for Next Level Dancers. The program will meet IN-PERSON as long as conditions, staff and participant health permit – with a plan in place to switch to remote if we have a second wave of Covid-19 cases as schools re-open. In order to maintain safe social distancing, only 10 students will be permitted to join each section (Juniors or Seniors) at this time. All participants and staff must wear masks, wash and sanitize hands frequently, and will have their temperatures checked upon entry. Anyone experiencing symptoms that could be Covid-19 should let Mickey know and stay home! Staff will do the same, call out sick and/or cancel class if need be, should they be unwell.
Our Spring 2020 semester — like everything else — was hijacked by Covid-19. But staff and a majority of our dancers continued to create and learn choreography while in quarantine, working from video tutorials and participating in Zoom classes, and shifting the focus of the spring performance piece to reflect the daily realities, struggles, discoveries and current events that became The New Normal. Don’t have 45 minutes? Check out the short video made by Lead Instructor/Choreographer Mickey Sakai in response to the insanity of Spring 2020: set to John Legend’s “Bigger Love” and featuring Next Level Dancers, students from her school-based dance programs and colleagues from all over the world! The short video was also featured on Bronx 12 News.
Fall semester (late September – end of January)
Spring Semester (February-June)
Typically each semester culminates with a live performance showcase at the New Settlement Community Campus. But for the fall 2020 (would be a late January 2021 performance) we shall have to see. Live show or recording TBD.