Arts & Culture Maplewood Schools / Kids South Orange

AileyDance Kids Residency Culminates With Grand Finale at SOPAC for South Orange-Maplewood Students

From the South Orange-Maplewood School District:

South Orange Performing Arts Center (SOPAC), in partnership with The Ailey Organization’s Arts In Education & Community Program, facilitated a 16-week AileyDance Kids residency culminating with a grand finale performance on  Wednesday, February 6. South Orange Middle School and Maplewood Middle School students performed on the SOPAC stage, launching the school district’s observance of Black History Month and celebrating their achievements with their classmates, families and school community. The performance represented a demonstration of what students had learned over the course of the dance residency program, including warm-up and technical movements, as well as choreographed ensemble pieces.

SOPAC Executive Director Mark Packer kicked-off the evening with opening remarks outlining how the collaboration between SOPAC and South Orange Maplewood Schools’ Fine and Performing Arts Department Supervisor James Manno, led to partnering with Ailey Arts in Education. Packer credited Manno for identifying the need for cultural arts education diversity in South Orange-Maplewood School District schools and for connecting SOPAC to AileyCamp National Director & Master Teacher for Arts In Education Nasha Thomas, who also happens to be a resident of Maplewood. Packer’s final remarks included thanking the many contributors who made the residency a success, including Middle School Principals Lynn Irby (SOMS) and Dara Gronau (MMS) as well as Ailey Arts in Education Teaching Artist Darius “Damazi” Williams and musician Sean Clements.

“Celebrating Revelations at 50,” film tribute by Emmy award-winning producer and director Judy Kinberg, was screened in the SOPAC performance hall before the finale. The film, which was created for the 50th anniversary of Alvin Ailey’s iconic masterpiece Revelations, features Alvin Ailey and Judith Jamison discussing the history of the seminal piece and its influence on American dance. Revelations is the signature choreographic work of Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater. It was first performed by Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater in New York City on January 31, 1960. Revelations tells the story of African-American faith and tenacity from slavery to emancipation through a suite of dances set to spirituals and blues music.  Upon conclusion of the film, students performed an excerpt of Revelations titled “I’ve Been ‘Buked.”

The AileyDance Kids Residency at SOMSD is made possible by the South Orange Performing Arts Center through a grant from the Hearst Foundations.


Since 2006, SOPAC has been serving as a premier performing arts center in the region. SOPAC offers innovative artistic and cultural experiences for diverse audiences in an intimate, inviting environment. The premier arts center hosts a variety of live performances, community events and education programs for all ages.  To further expand its offerings, SOPAC has a partnership with the Juilliard School of Music to present Juilliard @ SOPAC—a series featuring upcoming musicians from the acclaimed conservatory.  SOPAC is home for Seton Hall University Arts Council’s performances, including Classical Concert Series, Jazz ‘N the Hall performances and Seton Hall University Theatre productions.  SOPAC also presents performances by its theatre company in-residence, American Theater Group. For more information, visit

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