Usdan Center for the Creative and Performing Arts

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Usdan Center for the Creative and Performing Arts
Usdan Logo.jpg
Type Not-for-profit Arts Camp
Location Wheatley Heights (Town of Huntington) Long Island, NY
Founded 1968
Executive Director Mr. Dale Lewis
Campus 70 Studios and Theaters on 200 acres (0.81 km2)
Mission Statement Usdan Center is a summer arts camp that provides an educational setting for children to develop artistic skills, regardless of their level of talent. Guided by a professional faculty, students participate in public performances and exhibits that reflect the high standards sought by their teachers and conductors. The goal is for them to leave Usdan with the arts as a lifetime companion. The Center's philosophy is reflected in Suzanne Usdan's inspirational message: "Lose yourself for a summer. Find yourself for a lifetime."
Website www.usdan.com

Usdan Center for the Creative and Performing Arts (often referred to as "Usdan Center") is a not-for-profit summer arts camp situated on 200 woodland acres (0.81 km2) in Wheatley Heights, Long Island, NY. Usdan opened in 1968 and now enrolls 1,600 students ages 6–18. Now in its 48th season, Usdan has been declared a “Best Of” camp by TimeOutNY/Kids, and by NY Metro Parents. The Center has been profiled in the New York Times, Time Magazine, and in numerous print and online publications. Usdan's 40,000 alumni include actresses Natalie Portman, Jackie Hoffman, Olivia Thirlby, Stacey London, and Lisa Gay Hamilton; singers Jane Monheit, Taylor Dayne, and Mariah Carey; Tony-Award nominated playwright Michele Lowe, Grammy-Award winning producer Adam Abeshouse, Broadway personality Seth Rudetsky, Juilliard conductor Adam Glaser, and members of major American orchestras, dance and theater companies. The camp is named for the daughter of the late philanthropist Samuel Lemberg.

Usdan was established to provide children with the arts as a companion for life through great teaching and the camaraderie of fellow students whose bond is their love of the arts. The Center features more than 40 programs of study. The Music Department offers Orchestra, Band, Chorus, Guitar, Chamber Music, Jazz Ensemble, and Piano. The Dance Department offers Ballet, Modern, Jazz, and Tap dance. The Theater Department offers Repertory Theater, Musical Theater, Technical Theater, Drama and Theater Adventure. The Visual Arts Department offers Painting, Ceramics, Sculpture, Jewelry, Photography, Illustration and Book Design, Video Arts, Fashion Design, Sewing and Fashion Production, Cartooning, Video Game Art and Design and Animation. Other "majors” include Creative Writing, Chess, Nature and Ecology, and Organic Gardening. A special feature of each student’s program is attendance at the Center's series of daily assemblies known as the Festival Concerts. These are performances by distinguished artists and by Usdan students as well. World famous artists who have appeared on this series include Andre Watts, Yo-Yo Ma, The King's Singers, Earl Wild, Ruggiero Ricci, James Galway, Canadian Brass, Tokyo String Quartet, Emanuel Ax. Jazz artists have included Jimmy Heath, Marian McPartland, Billy Taylor, Randy Brecker, Bobby Watson, and Jane Monheit. Dance companies include New York City Ballet, Dance Theater of Harlem, the José Limón Dance Company. Cast members from current Broadway shows perform on this series, and many also work with students as visiting master teachers.

The camp is divided into four divisions based on grade level: Discovery - Grade K and 1; Partners in the Arts - Grades 2 and 3; Junior - Grade 4 through 6; Senior - Grade 7 through 12. Students have a choice of classes from the following disciplines: Music, Art, Theater, Dance, Writing, Chess, Nature and Ecology, Organic Gardening. Students choose a "major" class that meets for two fifty-minute periods daily, and they also have a "minor" that meets for one period daily. All students have an hour of swim daily. The Center enrolls students for 3, 4, or 7 weeks.

Usdan’s modern campus includes 70 award-winning studios and theaters, including the campus centerpiece, the Andrew and Lily McKinley Amphitheater, a 1,000-seat state of the art theater for the Center's daily artist and student concerts. Other signature buildings include the Samuel and Lucille Lemberg Drama Center, with three theaters, six teaching studios, and costume and set shops. The Block Media Arts Center contains broadcast quality production studios. The Maurice B. Hexter Center is a recital hall and conference center that also houses Usdan's chess program. Art students exhibit the work in the Goetz and Hexter galleries. Usdan is a beneficiary agency of UJA-Federation of New York, and the Center is chartered by the Regents of the State of New York.

History[edit]

Usdan Logo

In 1968, one thousand New York-area children arrived at the newly created Usdan Center to pursue their love of the arts. This extraordinary inaugural enrollment was testimony to the vision and dedication of the Center's founders. They included artists, educators, and communal leaders. The Center was established under the aegis of Federation of Jewish Philanthropies (now UJA-Federation of New York) then headed by Dr. Maurice B. Hexter. Graenum Berger, Dr. Hexter's colleague, brought the concept to Federation following a trip with Andrew McKinley to Interlochen in 1951. Here Dr. Berger saw the possibility of a comprehensive not-for-profit arts camp for children living in the New York metropolitan area. He embraced the concept of arts education in a camp setting, and enlisted the partnership of a great philanthropist, Samuel Lemberg. Mr. Lemberg provided the initial donations to establish the Center. To honor his extraordinary generosity, Usdan was named for his beloved daughter, Suzanne Usdan.

Arts educators created the educational and artistic plan for Usdan. The Center's founding Executive Director, Andrew McKinley, was a concert artist, a member of the Juilliard faculty, and a renowned opera singer. The Center’s Educational Coordinator and longtime Board President, Dr. Jerrold Ross, then Chairman of the Department of Music Education at New York University, worked with Mr. McKinley to establish the high artistic and educational standards for which Usdan is known. Together with Mrs. Usdan, Dr. Hexter, and Mr. Lemberg, a Board of Trustees was established, and Mr. McKinley assembled a faculty of prominent artists and teachers from the country’s leading conservatories and universities. In 1983, following 16 years as Director of the Center, Andrew McKinley retired. The Board appointed Dale Lewis to become his successor, and Mr. Lewis has been Usdan’s Executive Director since that time. Dr. Ross was the Board's longest serving President (1968-2004). In recent years he has collaborated with Mr. Lewis to expand the Center's curriculum. In 2006 Dr. Ross was honored by his Board colleagues with the naming of the Jerrold Ross Discovery Center, Usdan's campus center for early childhood arts education.

Usdan's original curriculum of music, art, dance, and theater has expanded into additional fields of study in the arts. The program now includes recently added courses in writing, jazz studies, video arts, computer graphics, jazz and tap dance, chamber music, nature and ecology, organic gardening, fashion design, cartooning, animation, classical guitar, and chess. Newer elective classes include Life Drawing, Actor’s Skills, and Tennis.During the past ten years, Usdan has launched programs for beginners as well. Discovery is an arts exploration experience for children in Kindergarten and First Grade.

In addition to its primary programs for children, Usdan also sponsors professional development programs for arts educators. Lifetime learning is another programmatic theme at Usdan, and these programs include alumni study days, lecture and concert workshops for adults, and a popular summertime event for adults known as Usdan University. Usdan’s professional staff provides collaborative programs with schools on Long Island in New York City, and the Center hosts training events for young professionals in the arts, and for community events such as the Long Island Envirothon.

Usdan's leadership includes its Board of Trustees and a Leadership Council of Long Island community, philanthropic, and business leaders, both under the direction of the Center's President, John Usdan, son of the Center's namesake. 2013 was Dale Lewis's 30th year as Executive Director.

Usdan's Mission: Usdan Center is a summer arts school that provides an educational setting for children to develop artistic skills, regardless of their level of talent. Children acquire and develop these skills under the guidance of a professional faculty and they participate in public performances and exhibits that reflect the high standards sought by their teachers and conductors. While studying at Usdan, children discover new abilities and talents and they form lifetime friendships with those who share their love of the arts. The goal is for them to leave Usdan with the arts as a lifetime companion. The Center's philosophy is reflected in Suzanne Usdan's inspirational message: "Lose yourself for a summer. Find yourself for a lifetime." [1]

Departments[edit]

Music[edit]

The music program includes both instruction and performance. Faculty members come from the finest conservatories and include leading freelance musicians and concert artists. They teach with love and aim for the highest standards possible.

Majors

  • Concert Band (Grades 3 to 12): Four bands offer performance opportunities for students of varying ages and abilities. Students must have at least one year of prior instruction with note reading. Concerts feature student performances of classic and contemporary band literature. 1 hour of Band and 1 hour in a sectional lesson daily.
  • Jazz Ensemble (Grades 6 to 12): Two Jazz Ensembles offer performance opportunities for students of varying ages and abilities. For students in 6th, 7th or 8th grade, one year of prior instrumental music instruction is required, though no audition is needed. This program consists of daily classes in Intermediate Jazz Ensemble and Concert Band. 6th graders will also have a period of a sectional lesson, and no additional minor is chosen. 7th and 8th graders must choose a minor. Students in 9th through 12th grade are required to audition for the Advanced Jazz Ensemble. Students in the Advanced Ensemble have a 3-period program in Improvisation, Jazz Ensemble and Concert Band, and no additional minor choice is needed.
  • Orchestra (Grades 3 to 12): Orchestras for students of varying ages and abilities. Students must have at least one year of prior instruction with note reading. Usdan Orchestras perform major symphonic works and collaborate with other Usdan ensembles. 1 hour of Orchestra and 1 hour in a sectional lesson daily.
  • Senior Chorus (Grades 7 to 12): Two hours daily devoted to major choral works with opportunities for small ensemble singing.
  • Junior Chorus (Grades 2 to 6): A popular major for young singers, the Junior Chorus presents a choral concert in July and a theater revue in August.
  • Classical Guitar (Grades 4 to 12): Two hours daily of classical instruction. Students must have at least one year of prior instruction.
  • Classical Piano (Grades 3 to 12): A unique program of group instruction. Students are placed by ability and study technique and solo repertoire. They are also introduced to the joy of piano ensembles. Students must have at least one year of prior instruction. Studios are equipped with Yamaha professional-model pianos.[2]

Minors

  • Senior Chorus (Grades 7 to 12)
  • Select Chamber Choir (Grades 9 to 12)
  • Junior Chorus (Grades 2 to 6)
  • Chamber Music (Grades 7 to 12)
  • Jazz Ensemble (Grades 7 to 12)
  • Folk Guitar (Grades 4 to 12)
  • Band, Orchestra (Grades 7 to 9)

Art[edit]

Art majors choose one discipline to explore in depth. Students work in studios designed for their medium and learn from working artists who are specialists in their fields. Studios feature large skylights as well as indoor and outdoor courtyards to take advantage of natural light and the inspiration of nature.

Majors

  • Painting and Drawing (Grades 2 to 12): Creative drawing and painting using acrylics, pastels and related media.
  • Sewing and Fashion Design (Grades 4 to 12): Students learn how to create fashion from concept to construction using the sewing machine. Patterns and free design are used to create clothing and sewn objects. Level I: Beginner. Prerequisite for Level II: Use of a sewing machine for at least fifty hours.
  • Cartooning (Grades 5 to 12): An introduction to classic cartooning techniques and characters, with projects designed from concept to finished product. Techniques include thumbnail sketches and breakdowns, penciling, inking, and page layout. Students develop and design their own characters.
  • Illustration and Book Design (Grades 7 to 12): The art of creating illustrated stories from concept to completion. Students learn skills in design, layout, and illustration in order to create an original book.
  • Animation (Grades 7 to 12): Fundamentals of 2-D Animation, in which students are introduced to both hand-drawn and computer generated imagery.
  • Ceramics (Grades 2 to 12): Experimentation with hand forming, turning on the potter’s wheel, ceramic design and sculpture, and glaze technology.
  • Sculpture (Grades 2 to 12): Exploration of three-dimensional forms, abstract and representational, in wood, stone, clay, plaster, wire and metal.
  • Art Adventure (Grades 2 to 4): An exploratory art experience in which students are introduced to a variety of media, including drawing, painting, hand-building ceramics, and sculpture.
  • Metalsmithing (Grades 4 to 12): Students explore basic skills in hammering, raising and chasing metal. They create jewelry using selected techniques such as wire working, soldering, acid etching, bezel stone setting and bead stringing.
  • Photography (Grades 4 to 12): Photographic composition, printing, imaging, enhancement, and presentation on Apple Macintosh computers. Students supply their own digital camera.
  • Studio Art (Grades 5 to 12): A 3 or 4-week introduction to two-dimensional and three-dimensional media. Class content is drawn from art forms such as drawing, painting, hand-building ceramics, sculpture, printmaking, collage, or others.
  • Video Arts (Grades 5 to 6): An introduction to video production using state-of-the-art studio and portable recording and editing equipment. The curriculum covers elements of storyboarding and plot development, camera technique, and video editing. Student projects are created by collaborative teams of student writers, editors, actors, directors, and camera operators.
  • Video as a Film Art (Grades 7 to 12): A video production course with classes focused on classic and contemporary cinematic technique. Students create short videos inspired by film and television, and also collaborate in the recording of Usdan performances to create music videos. Videos are created by student writers, editors, actors, directors, and camera operators. Recording and post-production take place in the Media Arts Center’s professionally equipped studios and editing suites.
  • Video Game Art and Design (Grades 4 to 12): An introduction to the creation and development of non-violent Video Games.
  • Architecture Design (Grades 7 to 12): Principles of building design including CAD drawing and model-making.

Minors

  • Painting & Drawing (Grades 2 to 12): Creative drawing and painting using acrylics, pastels and related media.
  • Life Drawing (Grades 7 to 12, for Art Majors only): An exploration of the human form for advanced artists. Students will learn the principles of life drawing with the aid of draped models.
  • Photography (Grades 4 to 12)
  • Cartooning (Grades 4 to 12)
  • Lego Design (Grades 2 to 12): Lego blocks are often used as a toy. This minor class will explore creative ways that lego blocks can be used “outside the box” to create one-of-a-kind pieces of Art and Design.[3]

Theater[edit]

The Lemberg Drama Center houses an indoor air-conditioned theater, 2 outdoor amphitheaters, rehearsal studios, and costume and set shops. This extraordinary complex is the site of classes for students who participate in a program designed to increase acting skills, as well as offer performances in the Center’s theaters. Among the recent productions were The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, Into The Woods, and Gypsy.[4]

Majors

  • Usdan Repertory Theater Company (Grades 9 to 12): For advanced actors, emphasis is on company responsibility for the entire production process. This company will present one musical and one drama. 4-Period program.
  • Technical Theater (Grades 9 to 12): An advanced level course for experienced theater tech students in grades 9 through 12. The program builds on each student’s experience in project organization and process, as students also participate in hands-on tech activities in Usdan’s theaters. 4-Period program. Limited enrollment.
  • Drama (Grades 7 to 12): Classes with emphasis on acting, speech, movement and comedy.
  • Musical Theater (Grades 4 to 12): Classes with emphasis on acting, speech, movement, voice and dance.
  • Theater Adventure (Grades 2 to 3): An exploratory theater experience in which students are introduced to basic acting skills, and to the traditions of the stage.

[5]

Minor

  • Actor's Skills (Grades 7 to 12, for theater majors): This non-performance elective provides theater majors with a broad range of fundamental approaches to the challenges faced by young actors.
  • Audition Workshop (Grades 7 to 12, for theater majors): Training in the acting and singing components of a musical theater audition. Includes instruction in choosing material that highlights the strengths of each student.

Dance[edit]

Dancers study technique, classic repertory and original choreography with New York City's nationally renowned dancers and choreographers. Instruction is rigorous but caring, and studios are spacious, with soft floors and generous skylights that give them an open-air effect.

Majors

  • Ballet (Grades 2 to 6): Study of classical technique including barre and center exercises, across the floor combinations and performance of original choreography or classic repertory. Beginning and Intermediate levels.
  • Hip Hop (Grades 4 to 12): Combines traditional jazz moves with hip-hop funk. Classes are fast-paced and high-energy. Intermediate level, minimum 1 year of dance experience.
  • Dance Adventure (Grades 2 to 3): An exploratory dance experience for beginners in which students are introduced to a variety of forms, including jazz, modern, ballet, and popular/contemporary dance.
  • Beginning Combination Dance (Grades 4 to 12): An introduction to the language of classic and contemporary dance forms. Students learn basic positions, steps and styles drawn from Jazz, Lyrical, Theater Dance and Modern Dance.

Minors

  • Ballet (Grades 2 to 6): Beginning and intermediate - advanced levels.
  • Jazz Dance (Grades 4 to 12): Contemporary dance forms drawn from Broadway and classic jazz traditions.
  • Modern Dance (Grades 2 to 12): Beg. & Int./Adv. levels. Incorporating elements of classical ballet, improvisation, and structured movement, Usdan's Modern Dance program is based in Martha Graham technique.
  • Tap Dance (Grades 2 to 12): Beginning and intermediate-advanced levels.
  • Lyrical Dance (Grades 4 to 12): The intersection of ballet and jazz set to music with lyrics. Stylistic focus on fluidity and balletic interpretation. Beginning and Intermediate Levels.

[6]

Chess[edit]

Usdan's instructional and competitive Chess program is available as a major or a minor. With class time split between instruction and tournament play, students at all levels develop skills to enhance their enjoyment of the game.[7]

Major and Minor

  • Chess (Grades 3 to 12): Usdan's chess program is designed to meet the individual needs of each student. Multiple classes offer instruction to beginner through advanced players. Players new to chess learn its rules, notation and the opening, middle and end games. Technique is acquired in organized and free play with other students and faculty. Advanced players develop a repertory of game strategies.[8]

Writing[edit]

Small groups of creative writing students engage the forms of poetry, short fiction and playwriting in covered, open-air studios. The program culminates in the publication of Usdan's literary magazine, a multidisciplinary publication which includes student-produced poetry and writing.

Major

  • Creative Writing (Grades 4 to 12): The writing of stories, plays and poems. Participation in the production of Usdan Center's literary magazine, Painting with Words.[9]

Minor

  • Creative Writing (Grades 3 to 12): Instruction and practice in the writing of stories and poems.

Nature[edit]

Usdan's magnificent forest provides the setting to study Long Island's natural ecosystems. Focuses are on hands-on projects, including garden and forest exploration, and the art of nature, as studied in science and craft.

Majors

  • Nature, Ecology, and Design (Grades 2 to 6): Usdan's magnificent forest provides a vibrant setting to study Long Island's ecosystems. Hands-on projects include garden and forest exploration, and the experience of nature as realized in science, art, and craft.
  • Organic Gardening and Simple Food (Grades 4 to 12): The art of planning, and the hands-on growing and cultivation of Usdan's organic fruit and vegetable gardens, together with the preparation of simple dishes with ingredients from the harvest.

Minors

  • Nature, Ecology, and Design (Grades 2 to 6): Usdan's magnificent forest provides a vibrant setting to study Long Island's ecosystems. Hands-on projects include garden and forest exploration, and the experience of nature as realized in science, art, and craft.
  • Organic Gardening and Simple Food (Grades 4 to 12): The art of planning, and the hands-on growing and cultivation of Usdan's organic fruit and vegetable gardens, together with the preparation of simple dishes with ingredients from the harvest.[10]

Discovery Program[edit]

Discovery is a unique program of summer fun and exploration in the arts for students currently in Pre-K, Kindergarten or First Grade. Children are placed into groups of 10–12, each with a college-age counselor who guides them throughout the day. The Discovery program is situated in the woodland setting of Usdan’s newest building, the state-of-the-art Ross Discovery Center. Daily activities are drawn from a curriculum that includes Chorus, Painting & Ceramics, Swim, and Personal Journal Writing. Discovery classes are fun explorations in the arts that offer an introduction to the exciting world of Usdan’s varied programs in music, art, theater, and dance.[11]

Partners in the Arts[edit]

Students in the Partners program are taken from class to class by a Counselor in Training (CIT), one who will guide them around Usdan's beautiful campus. They choose a Major Interest and a Minor Interest activity, just as Usdan's older students do. CIT’s meet their partners at the bus field each morning, and then take them to class throughout the day.[12]

External links[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "A History of the Usdan Center". Retrieved 2012-12-11. 
  2. ^ "Classes Offered". Retrieved 2012-12-11. 
  3. ^ "Art Program". Retrieved 2008-07-28. 
  4. ^ "Theater Program". Retrieved 2012-12-10. 
  5. ^ "Classes Offered". Retrieved 2012-12-10. 
  6. ^ "Classes Offered". Retrieved 2012-12-11. 
  7. ^ "Usdan Brochure". Retrieved 2012-12-11. 
  8. ^ "Chess Program". Retrieved 2012-12-11. 
  9. ^ "Writing Program". Retrieved 2012-12-10. 
  10. ^ "Classes Offered". Retrieved 2012-12-11. 
  11. ^ "Discovery Program". Retrieved 2012-12-12. 
  12. ^ "Classes Offered". Retrieved 2012-12-12.