ENGLEWOOD, NJ: The Bergen Performing Arts Center, or bergenPAC, has been introducing more than 30,000 students from two months to 21 years old to the performing arts since 2003. Beginning this fall, the number of students will grow as the school begins teaching classes for children and teens from age 2 to 18 with special needs under the Limitless Arts program.
Taglined “A New Program for Students with Special Needs,” the new program will add classes for students who need support in a group environment to the school’s curriculum, and will allow students to explore their artistic interests further while in a safe and secure environment.
“We are so proud to offer this exciting new program,” said Alexander Roland Diaz, the center’s director of education, in a statement. “This perfectly supports and reflects our mission to make the performing arts accessible to everyone.”
BergenPAC has added three new classes to its semester schedule: Creative Childhood for toddlers and children from the ages of 20 months to 5 years old, Junior Artists for children and teens between 5 and 14 years old and Saturday Specials for both children and adults.
Creative Childhood will allow parents and children to bond while also learning dance, music and drama skills. Junior Artists will focus on a specific art style and will allow students to hone and grow their own artistic skills. These sessions are offered in different levels of music and dance classes, giving students the opportunity to expand their abilities or acquire new ones. Saturday Sessions will combine two art forms, dance and music, in different styles in a group ratio of 4 to 1. The class will then be divided into three sections titled “African Dance and Drums,” “The Drama of Dance” and “The Joy of Movement.”
The new Limitless Arts program is the result of efforts by Renee Redding-Jones, bergenPAC’s executive director of The Center for Life and Learning, program creator and director. Redding-Jones comes to bergenPAC from New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts and Dance, but she’s spent more than 20 years teaching the arts in many different capacities, including six years as a master teaching artist for NJPAC’s Arts Education division and current teaching position at The Atlantic Theater Company Acting School, where she teaches movement for actors.
The Limitless Arts Program may be new to BergenPAC, but it’s not the first of its kind for Redding-Jones. After seeing a need for a forum for parents and children with special needs more than 10 years ago, she founded Special Parents of Teaneck (SPOT), a district-wide support and resource group for families and children with special needs.
Coming from an artistic background as a dancer and performer, Redding-Jones continues her mission of merging art, service and advocacy together through the new “Limitless Arts Program.” Redding-Jones hopes that through these classes, students will receive a sense of artistic awareness and opportunities to explore their passions, no matter what type of art that may be.