Usdan Center Celebrates 40th Anniversary
Usdan Center for the Creative and Performing Arts (www.usdan.com), called by Time Magazine “One of the most unique camps in America,” is now celebrating its 40th Anniversary Season of introducing young people to the arts, and addressing children’s educational needs in exciting new ways. In addition to its annual seven-week summer season offering more than 40 programs in the visual and performing arts, Usdan, America’s largest summer arts day camp, presents its second annual Summer in September intensive-workshop weekend on September 29-30, 2007. Summer in September will include “Essay Writing” for high school students, designed to prepare high school juniors and senior for their college admissions applications; “The Craft of Broadway” for aspiring high school stage actors, consisting of audition workshops and lectures on “the business of show business” and a day of study on Broadway; and the “Audition and Admissions Workshop for Advanced Conservatory-Bound Musicians”.
Annually attended by 1,600 children ages 6 to 18 from throughout the Tri-State area (including Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, The Bronx, Westchester, Northern New Jersey and Southern Connecticut) Usdan students are picked up five days a week by air-conditioned charter buses, and transported to the Center’s 200-acre woodland campus in Huntington, Long Island. No audition is needed for most classes, as the essential prerequisite is interest—the Center, in other words, is open to all. In addition to their studies in the arts, students attend Usdan’s daily on-site “Festival Concerts,” educational performances by world-famous artists such as the Tokyo String Quartet, the Limon Dance Company, jazz singer Jane Monheit, current Broadway stars, and members of the New York City Ballet. After the first few weeks of the season, student ensembles present the daily performances.
Another Usdan feature is the caliber of its teachers, many of whom are internationally renowned artists. Many return year after year, drawn by the interest and commitment of the Center’s students. For example, world-famous jazz pianist and educator Dr. Billy Taylor founded the Jazz Studies Department in 1986, and subsequently brought stars such as Marian McPartland, Jimmy Heath and Jon Faddis to conduct workshops at the Center. Other teachers have included members of the New York Philharmonic, the Rockettes, the Chicago Symphony, American Ballet Theatre, Broadway productions, and artists such as painter Frank Stella.
Although the aim of the Center is merely to create a lifetime relationship with the arts, its unique stimulation has caused many to go on to professional careers, and alumni include Mariah Carey (who has since established a scholarship), Natalie Portman, jazz singer Jane Monheit and members of major symphony orchestras, Broadway shows and dance ensembles. August 1 will be the 40th Anniversary Usdan Gala Concert; an evening featuring Jane Monheit and students in performance, and Alumni Awards will be given to the many achieving former students.
The Usdan season runs through August 10 at 185 Colonial Springs Road in Wheatley Heights (Huntington), and registration for the following season begins immediately afterwards. For information and registration for Summer in September and the 2008 season, call 631-643-7900 (also, beginning in September, call Usdan’s New York City office, at 212-772-6060) or visit www.usdan.com.#