Berkshire Pulse Expands Programming

Bringing Dance to Four Schools

By: - Feb 12, 2015

Berkshire Pulse – the interdisciplinary dance and performing arts education center located in downtown Housatonic – has significantly expanded its efforts to bring vibrant, dynamic dance instruction directly to students enrolled in local schools. Pulse is offering programming at four Berkshire County schools: Muddy Brook Elementary School in Great Barrington, Nessacus Middle School in Dalton, New Marlborough Central Elementary School in New Marlborough, and Undermountain Regional Middle School in Sheffield.

Established in 2004, Berkshire Pulse encourages the healthy social, intellectual, and emotional development of young people through participation in the performing arts. With an emphasis on diverse and distinctive programming, Pulse offers a year-round calendar of weekly classes, special workshops, and summer intensives to both youth and adults.

The in-school programs taking place this month are coordinated by Pulse World Music and Dance Associate Director Kim Waterman and were designed to underscore the importance of creative learning and its ability to bring energy to the learning process while helping children to build strength and confidence, uncover hidden talents and find a new voice for self-expression. Education in these arts assists in the development of specific skills such as physical coordination, interpersonal communication, rhythm, math skills, and multicultural awareness. These programs are also particularly supportive of children with kinetic and auditory learning styles, a segment of the student population that is often hard to serve.

At Muddy Brook Elementary, as part of the Berkshire Hill Regional School District’s 21st Century Learning Center, Pulse is leading grades 1 and 2 students in Intro to Dance, a nine-week class that meets once a week after school. Pulse faculty member Ellen Gorman is leading this explorative approach to the foundation principles and creative expressions of dance.

Pulse’s newest program is taking place at Nessacus Middle School in Dalton. As part of the physical education program, Pulse is providing a dance unit for all grade 6, 7 and 8 students during PE classes in February. Classes in modern dance and hip-hop led by instructor Ellen Gorman, and African dance led by Pamela Badilla of Diata Diata Folkloric , are being offered twice a week for three weeks in February.

African dance and drumming is the focus of Cultural Traditions: The Music and Dances of Africa, which is being offered to grade 3/4 students at New Marlborough Elementary and the 6th grade at Undermountain Middle School by dance instructor Pamela Badilla (Director of Diata-Diata International Folkloric Theater, accompanied by master drummers of the company) and World Music instructor Aimee Gelinas. This unique four-week program, which has been offered at these schools for the past four years, immerses children in the artistic and cultural traditions of Africa, using music and dance to promote knowledge and understanding of the historical and cultural contexts of the arts. Classes meet twice a week, and the program concludes with a school-wide presentation.

“We are so happy to have the opportunity to provide these programs to students in Berkshire County,” says Pulse Artistic Director Bettina Montano. “It’s a wonderful way to introduce children to the many joys and benefits of these arts.”

“We are particularly excited by the overwhelming support the in-school programs have seen this year, which reinforces the community’s commitment to its students,” says Pulse Board Chair Diane Pearlman. “It is also a ringing endorsement of Pulse’s hard work and dedication.”

Funding for Pulse In-school Programs has been supplied in part by the following: The Eagle and Janet’s Fund; the Nessacus Middle School and New Marlborough Central school Parent-Teacher Association; the Massachusetts Cultural Council’s Cultural Investment Portfolio; and the following Local Cultural Councils: Alford-Egremont Cultural Council; Becket Cultural Council; Dalton Cultural Council; Hinsdale-Peru Cultural Council; Monterey Cultural Council; New Marlborough Cultural Council; Sheffield Cultural Council; Washington Cultural Council; and the Windsor Cultural Council.

For more information about Berkshire Pulse, contact (413) 274-6624 or visit