NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ—Last month marked the end of a 20-week long educational dance program in the New Brunswick elementary schools called Dance Power.

The program teaches second and third graders the fundamentals and skills of dancing, and students and their families packed the State Theater for its culminating performance, “Waiting in the Wings.”

With the theme “Carnival of the Animals,” over 400 third grade students spanning all eight public elementary schools in New Brunswick performed animal-themed dances.

In addition to the performance, scholarships were awarded to students who will be able to study dance for free at Princeton Balleet School’s New Brunswick location for the next eight years.

According to Lisa Beth Vettoso the Executive Director of Princeton Ballet School, “Dance Power is a collaborative effort, where we are working closely with the school district, as the program involves so many classes and students.

The school curriculum is geared towards a performance with a focus on learning choreography and rehearsing.”

 Princeton Ballet School selected two girls and two boys from each elementary school to receive a scholarship to study dance at the New Brunswick location through their senior year of high school.

One of 2014’s scholarship recipients from Woodrow Wilson Elementary School, Levania Velasco, says, “I am very excited and happy, I wanted [the scholarship] so bad, I’m glad I found something right for me.”

Current Dance Power scholars and American Repertory Ballet Trainees performed during Waiting in the Wings to showcase the high level of dancing that can be achieved at the school.

Levania added, “The performance was very fun and very positive and made me feel really good. Being on the big stage with so many people watching made me feel extraordinary and very proud.” With an audience of over 1000 people the cheers never ended. Since 1984 Dance Power has been working with the New Brunswick community.

Waiting in the Wings is a highly-anticipated event for New Brunswick students and their families and friends.

The program is expanding as this is the first year all second-graders were able to take training classes to prepare themselves for the next year.  Vettoso hopes to continue to work with the New Brunswick schools and to continue to expand the program.

Charlie is the founder and editor of New Brunswick Today, and the winner of the Awbrey Award for Community-Oriented Local Journalism. He is a proud Rutgers University journalism graduate, a community organizer, and a former independent candidate for mayor of New Brunswick.