Art Programs for Jersey City Youth
Nimbus Dance Works is an award-winning contemporary dance company at the forefront of excellence in the arts and civic engagement. Founded in 2005 by Artistic Director Samuel Pott and based in Jersey City, Nimbus weaves together dance company, arts center, school, and community programming.
Nimbus performs on tour nationally and throughout the greater New Jersey/New York region, to an audience of over 16,000 people annually.
Committed to equity, diversity, and excellence, Nimbus Dance Works uses the power of the arts to influence both the individual and the community. Nimbus pushes the boundaries of the arts by innovative collaborations with artists and arts organizations of all disciplines. They take pride in creating space for people to access, participate in and benefit from the arts, in a manner that promotes equity, inspires social well-being, and cultivates unity. Their persistent commitment to these principles have been nationally recognized by entities such as the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation, DanceNYC / Ford Foundation’s Dance Advancement Fund, and the Cultural Access Network.
HealthierJC + Nimbus Dance Works
For Nimbus Dance Works, building a Culture of Health means connecting with the community through immersive art programming that reflects the unique demographic profile of Jersey City. A city considered the most diverse municipality in the United States in terms of language, nationality, and religious, cultural and racial background. Nimbus is both proud of, and deeply humbled by a record of service intentionally designed to address the need for cultural consciousness and fluency, inclusivity and equity.
Nimbus cultural arts programming closely aligns with the HealthierJC mission to expand access to quality education, promote fellowship, and build future community leaders. In awarding the mini-grant, HealthierJC acknowledged the ongoing contribution of Nimbus Dance Works in advancing a Culture of Health throughout all Jersey City neighborhoods.
Presenting the Jersey City Nutcracker
Since 2009, Nimbus Dance Works has drawn together a cast of professional Nimbus company dancers, 100+ youth from across the city, and community celebrities to present the annual Jersey City Nutcracker. Pre-Covid, with the HealthierJC mini-grant combined with the Goldman Sachs sponsorship, Nimbus Dance Works was able to conduct 30 dance classes, as well as 18 performances of their annual Jersey City Nutcracker production.
This adaptation of Tchaikovsky’s classic takes place in Jersey City and draws together families and the community around themes of magic, adventure, friendship, and growing up. While the show still uses the original ballet musical score, the revamped storyline is a modern-day tale following two children — one rich, one poor but best friends — on an adventure through Jersey City. The Nimbus adaptation is performed against a backdrop of full-scale sets and projected illustrations of familiar city landscapes created by Jersey City video artists.
Over forty students from Middle School 40, and Henry Snyder High School participated in Nutcracker production and performances. The show notably features an epic “good vs evil” dance battle that blends contemporary and hip-hop choreography. An uplifting holiday experience, the Nutcracker production was attended and enjoyed by over 2,300 Jersey City residents of all ages.
Despite pandemic challenges, Nimbus considered its options and pivoted to keep the holiday tradition alive. Working with a local filmmaker, the creative team made the decision to collaborate remotely in small groups over Zoom to develop and promote, and stream a video production of “Jersey City Nutcracker: The Movie”. The production featured a smaller cast of 31 youth and 13 adult professional dancers and premiered with a Nimbus hosted online viewing party.
Building Life Skills
In addition to developing performance skills, Nimbus Dance Works students are also able to develop their social-emotional and leadership skills. This was evident during the 2019 Greenville shooting. On that day, students from Henry Snyder High School participated in a Nimbus performance for PS 37 elementary students. Due to a citywide lockdown, the younger children were confined to the Nimbus facility for several hours following the performance. In response to this crisis, the cast members decided to keep on their show costumes and work with Nimbus staff and teachers to entertain and calm the younger children until their parents arrived. After this experience, several of the students from the Henry Snyder High School were hired to work with kids during the Nimbus summer session.
Moving forward, Nimbus plan to maintain their schedule of 45 School of Nimbus classes throughout the week, as well as the Junior Youth Ensemble, Nimbus Youth Ensemble, and the Pre-Professional dance programs. In addition, Nimbus will continue their in-school ‘movement’ programming, for over 7,000 Jersey City children annually.
The Jersey City Nutcracker is an established holiday classic and remains an annual priority for Nimbus with some thought of launching a touring production in the future.
Above all else, Nimbus Dance Works is committed to diversity, equity, and inclusion throughout the organization: in educational/outreach programming, artistic content, and the makeup of Nimbus’ staff, company dancers, teachers, and board of directors. In fact, the majority of Nimbus staff, the Dance Company and board of directors are comprised of individuals who self-identify as a person of color.
For more information about Nimbus Dance Works, please visit the organization’s website at https://www.nimbusdance.org/