Spotlight: AH Distance Learning @ Boys & Girls Club of Harlem

How it is already the third week of August, and now fall is just around the corner?! It has been a whirlwind summer for Arts Horizons as we continue to pivot and navigate through these very uncertain times in art, education, and life as we know it. In our last blog post, we introduced our virtual arts education program offerings which include live, prerecorded, and hybrid classes in a variety of artistic mediums. We would like to thank each and every one of our incredibly resourceful and resilient teaching artists. Many of them quickly transitioned to online teaching after COVID-19 shut down all of our in-person residencies in March.

We are also incredibly grateful to our partners who continue to support us as we develop and expand our virtual programs. This week, we spotlight one such partner, Boys and Girls Club of Harlem (BGCH). For 40 years, BGCH has been in an integral part of the greater Harlem community, and they strive to fill the gap between school and home by providing a positive, welcoming environment where kids and teens can have fun, participate in life-changing programs, and build supportive relationships with their peers and caring adults.

Since July, BGCH has been conducting an in-person summer camp for a select group of students at their Main Clubhouse on 145th Street and a Virtual Summer Camp online for the Harlem community. AH Teaching Artists Vickie Fremont and Derick Cross have created interactive, pre-recorded lessons in Recyclable Arts and Beatboxing for the Virtual Summer Camp. And over the last three weeks, Arts Horizons Teaching Artists Jeannine Otis and Dawn Crandell conducted livestream classes in Musical Theater and Dance, respectively. Let’s take a quick peek into their virtual classes via Google Meet!

BGCH’s summer camps were uniquely set up with strict COVID-19 social distancing and other protective measures in place. All students and staff were required to wear masks at all times, and this was one of the initial challenges that Dawn had encountered while teaching her high-energy Zumba® Fitness classes. Dawn is a multifaceted performing artist and licensed Zumba® instructor who specializes in theater, improvisation, burlesque, dance, and creative movement. Although Dawn was not physically present at BGCH, she decided to wear a mask while teaching in solidarity with her students. It took some getting used to, but in the end Dawn and her students adapted extremely well to dancing with masks on. A highlight of her classes was the “Follow Along Song” in which students took turn leading the group in a dance before cooling down.

Staten Island-based and award-winning singer, songwriter, actress, and author Jeannine Otis conducted a musical theater residency that focused on musicals situated in “urban settings” and included selections from:  Hamilton, In the Heights, West Side Story, and The Wiz. Jeannine not only taught her students song from these musicals, but she challenged them to think about how the city landscape is uniquely used to develop the plot, subtext, and characters. BGCH students were also treated to some guest artists straight from Broadway and the professional theater world – Larry Marshall (Waitress), Kristi Coombs (Annie), and Ariel Marcus (IlluminArt & Women’s Playwright Collective) – who shared their art and their exciting stories of working in musical theater.


We would like to sincerely thank Ms. Dominique Jones (Executive Director), Ms. Justine Robinson (Academic Programs Manager), Mr. Joseph Landon (Assistant Site Director), and all of the BGCH staff for their incredible support and for so warmly welcoming us back virtually! We are grateful for our long and fruitful partnership with BGCH, and we hope to continue working closely together to provide arts education to the Harlem community for years to come.

The pandemic may have shifted us to a new normal, but arts education is here to stay! Arts Horizons’ virtual arts programs are highly interactive and can help bolster student engagement, creativity, and well being. For more information about our livestream, prerecorded, and hybrid virtual arts programs, please contact Dena Malarek or Kiran Rajagopalan.

Department of NYC Residencies & Special Populations

Dena IslesDirector
NY Phone: 212.268.7219 * 108
NJ Phone: 201.567.1766 * 108

Kiran RajagopalanProgram Coordinator
NY Phone: 212.268.7219 * 113
NJ Phone: 201.567.1766 * 113

About Arts Horizons

Arts Horizons is a premier not-for-profit arts-in-education organization that provides live professional performances and artist-in-residence programs to students and professional development for teachers throughout the entire tri-state region. Our commitment is to make music, art, dance, theatre, new media and creative writing an integral part not only of learning, but of life. Through the transformative impact of the arts, we reach young people through many dimensions, breaking down the barriers of language and culture, accelerating personal growth, and stimulating children’s full potential to prepare them for life in the twenty-first century.

Posted on August 20, 2020, in Arts Horizons New York, Boys & Girls Club of Harlem, New York, Residency, Spotlight, Uncategorized and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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