Boy on stage

Shakespeare Challenge

“Shakespeare Challenge” is a program that utilizes Shakespearean drama to inspire students in the study of vocabulary, history, culture, and stagecraft, as well as to promote skills in creative movement, group cooperation, teamwork and conflict resolution. Students explore the historical context of Shakespeare’s plays, discussing the life and times of Shakespeare and his contemporaries while learning scansion, stage combat and Elizabethan movement. Instructors involve students in comparing various aspects of contemporary life with circumstances within the plays. Students prepare for specific scenes as well as fully produced performances. Each student has the opportunity to play multiple roles, encouraging all participants to challenge themselves, acquiring new confidence and understanding of the human condition.

“Problem-Solving through Playwrighting”: Act I: Writing, Act II: Performing

In Act I, students pull from the experiences and struggles of their everyday lives and work together in small groups to write a performance play, creating specific scenes that will also explore problem solving skills. In Act II, each high energy class prepares for fully produced performances. During the final production, professional actors are invited to engage with the students and perform within the written plays, encouraging and inspiring confidence. In addition to the development of vocabulary and literacy skills, this program brings children an in-depth understanding of playwrighting, theatre, stagecraft, production and performance. Our youth learn to experience their own creativity, the artist within and the joy of having their own words and experiences expressed within a play.

Improv / Improve

Through storytelling, character development and spontaneous acting, students explore and find their own voice, learn the art and benefits of Improvisation, Comedy, and the use of timing, while gaining an understanding of vocabulary, developing stage presence and how to connect and relate to others and the audience. Culminating performances are presented onsite and for community audiences.

Musical Theatre

Musical theatre provides the opportunity for students to work on portions of or a full theatrical piece. Students learn dance and choreography, music and vocal technique, and work together to create their own musical theatre production based on works in the contemporary repertoire. Past classes have performed AnnieOliver and scenes from Mary Poppins, and have created their own interpretation of the The Wizard of Oz called “El Wiz.” In 2014, City Hearts has also introduced our “Musical Theatre for Kinders” program for Kindergarten students.



A Dance program that integrates Math skill development through dance exercises demonstrating the inter-connectedness of all things. Within this program’s curriculum, exciting, participatory movements and mapping on the floor exercises, integrate math and geometry within a framework that allows often difficult-to-grasp concepts such as time, multiplication, division, fractions, length and measurement, to be uniquely experienced. Symmetry, reversals, positive and negative shapes and spaces, designing graphic systems and patterns, regrouping and classification will also be explored through movement and choreography. Combining Dance and Math becomes an integration model that affects student attitudes towards learning, and allows children to experience difficult abstract mathematical concepts in a real, physical sense.

Dance for Life

Introduces and inspires young dancers to know and understand creative expression and the joyful celebration of Dance as an elemental force of life. Classes provide the opportunity to learn various dance techniques including Classical Ballet, Jazz and Modern Dance as well as aspects of performance including choreography, costume design, set design, publicity, and audience relations. Participants begin by learning basic steps and by researching the history of the specific dance form they are studying. This class expands students’ vocabulary through the acquisition of dance-related terminology. Students use a historical perspective to discuss issues in today’s society, study videos of accomplished artists, and learn to prepare for performance.

DANCE: BodyStories

A new Dance program where students, in the creative laboratory of the Dance class, explore movement and focus on the mechanics of the human body, gaining a deeper and healthier relationship with their bodies and their own learning abilities. Imagery-rich, movement-based exercises focus on rhythms, body connections and relationships. Through the information about the body and the mechanics of dance techniques, biological topics are incorporated and expand knowledge, the vocabulary of human anatomy, and creative facility. While students experience and study entire-body breathing, simple awareness of structural arches in the body, anatomy, and imagery, they will then begin to create their own dances, and tell their own unique stories. Students are encouraged to journal about their experiences, and share their feelings and discoveries with other students.


Fresh Focus: A New Shot at Life

Our Photography program encourages at-risk youth to shoot with cameras, not with guns, to use their critical eye to evaluate, and through their eyes help educate others about their community. With digital technology and visual communication tools, this program incorporates multiple levels of learning in an Arts/Technology liaison, and connects children and youth living in economically distressed areas with their surroundings. The program advances computer and digital skills that will help students in the future job market. Participants re-view their lives, and discover a powerful voice for expression. Possibly for the first time, students see their neighborhoods, friends and family in a new light, finding beauty in their everyday lives, and utilize their photographs and voices to transform their vision for the future. Exhibition viewing, both in person and online, is incorporated into the class.

Making Memories: Building Dreams

A multi-level Art/Photography project with a goal to incorporate Arts experiences that give homeless children, youth and teen mothers a fresh start, so important after the distressing experiences of their transitional existence. This program provides an opportunity for youth to document or memorialize their experiences, grounding them in the present, and planting hope for a better future. They access the stories that give meaning to their lives, integrating physical, emotional and mental aspects. Projects may be multi-cultural in theme, e.g. creating photos or Photo/Art that honors Black History Month, Latin cultural holidays, or Asian festivals. Projects may focus on creating photo albums influenced by personal stories, or decorating boxes with photos/patterns/art, or, painting on photos and frames.


World Music: Guitar & Songwriting

Students embrace the world of sound, learn the language of musical terms, the musical elements of pitch, melody, harmony, rhythm, tempo, meter, articulation, dynamics, and the sonic qualities of timbre and texture. Studying 4 simple chords (C Major, A minor, F Major, G Major) and how they are combined uniquely to express different feelings throughout the past 50-60 years (e.g. from folk music to Tin Pan Alley to modern pop), a new light is shed on the concept of history when viewed from this perspective. Students increase literacy skills, study musical scores and songwriting, while gaining knowledge of a rich traditional history of music that incorporates culturally relevant and creative music-making.

Music & Words: Chorus

Introduces the language of song, sound, and singing practices. This new program provides the basics in Voice Technique and mechanics, teaching proper warm-up and vocal exercises to strengthen the voice. Students learn the major and minor scales, musical direction and cues, lyrics and tempos. The program culminates in a full-length choral production.

Keeping the Beat

This DRUM/DANCE program uses body and objects to create a musical, physical theatrical performance. Sometimes referred to as STOMP, this evocative term is used to describe the work through which youth learn to use their imaginations, creating in a visual, physical and rhythmically expressive way. Core ideas behind the program are to develop listening skills, tapping into the sense of rhythm and sound within and around us, and to build interpersonal and group collaborative skills, as well as an appreciation of music.  Through dedication and teamwork, with the rhythms of stomping, tapping, thumping, and incorporating the infinite number of percussive sounds of objects in our ordinary world, an extraordinary musical performance is created.

And More!

For Girls Only

A program of prevention that focuses on the unique needs of girls in our diverse communities, addressing issues that are relevant to their current challenging lives. Girls face tremendous obstacles in personal development and are at increasing risk of gang involvement and negative male influences when they lack information and self-esteem. The program provides a unique opportunity for girls to study Theater, Dance and Music while coming together to explore gender-specific issues, increase self-esteem, self-awareness and a sense of empowerment, helping girls to gain necessary life-skills to resist adverse influences and discover their own untapped resources for strength.

Sew 'n Sew

Creative Arts project that is uniquely skill-development & art-oriented, where students create practical, functional items that are personal & empower children through fashion, creativity and design. Discussions and research into the history of textiles, globally helps increase understanding of cultural diversity. Students learn simple sewing skills, read patterns, write in journals to create their concepts and to document their experiences, which enhances their literacy, design, math/geometry and geography skills. Design Arts stimulate and develop many cognitive skills, contributing significantly to critical thinking, problem-solving and decision-making. Projects engage children in a collaborative task for activities within their communities e.g. quilt-making, costumes, banners.


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A.L.I.T.E. (Arts And Literacy For Tomorrow’s Education)

Our outstanding program of literacy-enhancement is incorporated into all our programs, and truly addresses the different ways in which children learn. Children write in journals to create their concepts and to document their experiences, enhancing their literacy, design, math/geometry and geography skills. Research into and discussions of global communities increase understanding of cultural diversity and helps build vocabulary skills.

Max's A-B-C (Anti-Bullying Through City Hearts)

This initiative was introduced in 2012 in partnership with Max Adler (TV Show “Glee”), who was bullied as a child. Max’s A-B-C creates change through the integration of creative Arts and performing exercises with peaceful language and conflict resolution skills, based upon research that specifically addresses the critical issue of bullying among our youth. It provides an awareness of the internal and external processes involved in bullying, and presents alternate forms of behavior that helps build confidence and communication skills so important for students challenged by the stress of school and peer pressures.

Parents Participate Nights

These workshops harness the power of family and caregivers to motivate change. Parents are invited to participate and actively engage in their child’s Arts learning process through interactive exercises, perform with their children in scenes from plays, learn dance steps, or create photos. In our Shakespeare classes, parents move through warm-ups, vocal exercises, improv exercises, tongue-twisters, etc. with their children, experiencing the discipline of acting and performance, and the complex skills their children are acquiring. The family takes home additional fun exercises to further enhance everyone’s learning experiences.

Master Classes

Professional artists in our community engage students through discussions of their own practical experiences in their creative fields, and provide additional “Art Tools” for our students. This strengthens their communication abilities, and further advances their skill development through more focused and advanced training.

Service Learning

In this community outreach program, students share their specific arts discipline by “giving back” to their community through a performance at a selected venue (for example, hospitals, transitional homes, or senior centers). In this way, intensive arts education training is integrated with activities that teach compassion and caring.

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