Children and teens who enjoy singing, dancing, acting, performing, playing instruments, or who want to explore their Jewish culture through the prism of performance have embraced the new Oshman Family JCC (OFJCC) School for the Performing Arts that launched last winter. This fall, their parents and other adults are getting in on the action as the school expands to include classes for adults.
At the OFJCC School for Performing Arts, students have the opportunity to interweave Jewish melodies into their musical compositions, dance to iconic pieces by major Jewish composers, sing works from the vast repertoire of Jewish songwriters and work on scenes, skits and plays by Jewish playwrights and authors. They are also encouraged to question, debate, and dig deep to further explore the material.
If this sounds heavy, think again. One kindergartener described his drama class experience as “better than a Harry Potter movie night!” High praise indeed.
The School for the Performing Arts has not only won over its young students but their parents as well. A mother of two choir students in the school’s 2015 spring semester wrote: “My two children absolutely LOVED the class today! They kept on singing the song in the car and asked not to leave the OFJCC. They talked about how fun the class was, and they have never been this excited about a class in the past. As a parent, this is the best outcome—worth the time and money. First impressions set the tone. I am looking forward to the many other classes you will offer!”
This exposure to the wealth of Jewish contributions to the artistic world is one of the school’s defining elements, according to Edna Koren, a noted pianist and the manager of the OFJCC School for the Performing Arts. Koren adds, “As a musician and a teacher, it has been my life’s pleasure and honor to guide, nurture and inspire the creativity of students in the performing arts. I have witnessed the immense joy the arts can bring to students of all ages.”
Kay Kleinerman, the school’s drama instructor, shares her take on the richness theater brings to young lives. “Theater is an art that teaches us about beauty, ourselves, others and the world around us. From theater, we learn about life, love, and compassion. We learn what it means to be human. There can be no higher aim for education.”
This fall, expanded class offerings include a wider variety of children’s classes from k-12 as well as adult-only classes and private music lessons . Classes will range from dance classes such as ballet and hip hop to drama, choir, percussion, piano, guitar, rock band, songwriting, stage makeup and improvisation.
Students will be encouraged to collaborate with their teachers and peers to become involved in all aspects of the performing arts, front-and-center as well as backstage. Each semester will culminate in a performance at the OFJCC’s Schultz Cultural Arts Hall.