by Jalen Scott (photo provided by BrooklynBuzz.com)
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Thomas Jefferson High School, in East New York, Brooklyn, is among the largest and oldest high schools in New York City. Jefferson is also one of those schools that has been broken up into four smaller schools, which now comprises the Thomas Jefferson Campus. Within the campus exists the Performing Arts & Technology High School, better known as PATHS.
Within PATHS is the PATHSDANCE Program, which has been called a hidden gem in the heart of East New York. The dance program has produced students who have gone on to dance professionally, open up their own dance companies, become dance instructors, and most recently one of their dancers is currently auditioning for the play, Hamilton. The dancer made it through the dance portion of the audition with flying colors, and has moved onto the vocal phase of the audition. We will provide a follow up with an exclusive feature to let you know if he makes it through the next phase.
Last night PATHSDANCE put on another great performance, in front of a very nice size audience. Students in grades 9-12 performed magnificently. Although PATHS is a performing arts school in name, unlike schools like LaGuardia, the students at PATHS do not audition to get into the school. Many times PATHS is not a student’s first choice, which makes this story that much more interesting. Most of the students have very limited dance experience, but when they leave the PATHS Dance program they walk out the door with knowledge and experience in tap, modern, jazz and ballet. Students are well versed in all forms of dance technique, dance history and various genres of music associated with tap, jazz, modern and ballet.
The students performed exceptionally well and received a standing ovation for their efforts. Audience members were heard saying things like “this was not what I expected”, and “I didn’t know this is what they were doing in this school”.
The only aspect that is lacking from this program is the support from local elected officials and community stakeholders. The auditorium could use a complete renovation and we were informed that attempts in the past to sell tickets to local elected officials and community businesses has yielded no results so the program relies strictly on the students’ families and the program’s efforts to reach community leaders and businesses in neighborhoods beyond East New York.
In spite of the lack of official support, the crowds seem to be growing each year and the school continues to produce talented dancers, choreographers and dance instructors. If you get a chance next season, be sure to support the PATHS Dance Program, the hidden gem in the heart of East New York. Support this program!