As music in movement, dance is an integral part of Wharton Music Center’s curriculum. Under the direction of Rachel Falis, Director of Dance Programs, WMC offers classes in jazz, modern, ballet, musical theater dance, hip hop, tap, and choreography. Ms. Falis believes, “The Art of Dance uses movement to communicate meaning about the human experience. Movement is as natural and important to human life as breathing air and dance is far more than exercise or entertainment. A powerful medium, dance expresses our values, our thoughts, our aspirations, and our fears about the lives we live and the world we live in. Dance speaks in a very special universal language, both to the performer and the observer.”
Dedicated to dance as an art form, Wharton Music Center believes that education in the Art of Dance develops the whole child. Dance education:
• Develops a sense of body-awareness and mind-body connection
• Expands one’s expressive range of movement and performance
• Explores and experiences one’s vulnerabilities
• Allows students to strive for success, dream the impossible, and attempt the unthinkable
• Enables students personally, intellectually, and socially to contribute to their community
• Teaches the valuable life skills of collaboration, cooperation, communication, problem solving, conflict resolution, accountability, self-discipline, self esteem, and respect.
These life skills enable students to become well-rounded, productive members of society. Falis remarks, “An education in the arts is an essential part of the academic curriculum for the achievement of emotional, social, and personal growth in every child.”
Dance at Wharton Music Center stresses small class size of 4 to 8 students to promote effective learning, a wonderful in- house performance space, and a dance studio with a sprung dance floor for safety and injury prevention that prolongs a dancer's career. To challenge advanced dancers, students choreograph dances that are performed in an end-of-year showcase to an enthusiastic audience.
Ms. Falis, a graduate of Montclair State University where she received a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Dance and a Bachelor of Arts in English, has been teaching dance at Wharton Music Center for five years. While at Montclair State University (MSU), she received extensive training in ballet, modern, and choreography and performed works by Jose Limon, Alwin Nikolais, Alexandra Beller and Lonne Morreton. Ms. Falis teaches dance at Ridge High School in Basking Ridge and most recently directed WMC’s “So You Think You Can Dance” Actors Theater Project as part of its summer program. Ms. Falis is a founding company member of moe-tion dance theater, a modern dance company based in New Jersey. At Wharton Music Center, she choreographed Dear Edwina, Honk, Urinetown, Little Shop of Horrors, and Thoroughly Modern Millie. Ms. Falis is also certified in pilates through the American Athletic Association/International Sports Medicine Association and has received training from STOTT Pilates.
Ms. Falis who teaches ballet, contemporary, modern, jazz, and musical theater dance is joined by hip hop artist Rob Rivera. Mr. Rivera, a graduate of Montclair State University with a Bachelors in Fine Arts in Acting, has trained at Broadway Dance Center (NYC), Paper Mill Conservatory, and Union County Dance Center. He has performed Off-Broadway, regionally, and in national tours. Mr. Rivera is a resident choreographer and instructor for New York Sports Clubs, Lifetime Fitness, Paper Mill Conservatory as well as WMC. He has choreographed several stage performances in NYC including the all girl burlesque/hip hop show The New York City Kitties at Dekk and the hip hop performance of artist Frankee Razor at the Soul Cafe. He has also appeared on the reality pilot From Out to In as a hip hop instructor and The Tony Danza Show as a dance facilitator. Rob's most recent project was choreographing a hip hop dance sequence for the major motion picture Sibling.
Wharton Music Center, located at 60 Locust Avenue in Berkeley Heights, provides music, theater, and dance instruction, educational programs, and performances for children, teens, and adults. In addition to instruction in all instruments and voice, WMC offers classes in musical theater, dance, drama, choral music, vocal music, music theory, audio recording, early childhood music, and music for children with special needs. Offering a range of musical genres including classical, rock, jazz, and blues, WMC is one of New Jersey’s largest non-profit independent community music centers serving students in Berkeley Heights, Summit, Chatham, New Providence, Long Hill, Warren, Basking Ridge, Short Hills, Millburn, Livingston, Westfield, Scotch Plains, and other surrounding communities.
WMC offers orchestral and ensemble music education for grades 3 through 12 through New Jersey Youth Symphony (NJYS) located at 570 Central Avenue in New Providence. NJYS, one of the foremost youth orchestras in the state, has ten orchestras and ensembles for which auditions are held annually.