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Nai-Ni Chen Dance Company’s Project D.R.E.A.M Receives 2018 Innovator Award at the 10th Annual Excellence in Cultural Access Awards


Nai-Ni Chen Dance Company’s Project D.R.E.A.M Receives
2018 Innovator Award at the
10th Annual Excellence in 
Cultural Access Awards
The Nai-Ni Chen Dance Company was a recipient of the 2018 Innovator Award at the 10th Annual Excellence in Cultural Access Awards held at Grounds for Sculpture on June 21, 2018. This event provided an opportunity to celebrate and applaud organizations and individuals whose innovative and inspirational leadership have made a lasting impact on the lives of patrons and artists of all abilities.
Nai-Ni Chen Dance Company’s Project D.R.E.A.M. (Dance Rehabilitation Education Affecting Movement) was recognized for providing creative dance lessons to students of A. Harry Moore Laboratory School (AHM) of New Jersey City University. AHM offers comprehensive academic, therapeutic, pre-vocational and social programs for approximately 150 Pre-K to 12th-grade students between the ages of 3 and 21. The students are classified as Preschool Disabled, Learning and Language Disabled, and Multiply Disabled.
The mission of the project is to develop unique approaches through dance that enable each AHM student through music, movement, imagination, and improvisation to discover. It strives to improve their own abilities and to help them learn how they can fit within a group while developing their artistic voice.
The students of Project D.R.E.A.M. gave an inspiring performance at the 10th Annual Excellence in Cultural Access Awards sharing their talents and energy with the audience. Watch a video of the performance to witness the vibrancy of the students.

Since Project D.R.E.A.M.’s inaugural year in 2015, the Nai-Ni Chen Dance Company has steadily increased its work with AHM in hopes to continually provide an artistic outlet through dance for these special students.The positive working relationship between the Dance Company and the administration and staff at AHM has aided in developing a unique learning experience to enhance their educational journeys. The principal Steven Goldberg stated, “The body is often seen as the enemy and people often remark that the child is trapped within their body. This dance program changes the perspective in a very powerful way. The broken body is now a work and a maker of art. The child is no longer trapped within their body but now can begin to use their body as a method and means of expression. This changes the child’s negative body image and raises their self-esteem in a meaningful way.” Adaptive Physical Education Teacher Lori Bierig remarked, “Some of [the students] are beginning to move parts of their bodies that have not moved for years. Some of them are talking and smiling more. We are encouraged that the students, through music, movement, imagination, and improvisation, are discovering their own abilities. They are taking dance lessons ‘just like other kids.'”

You can support award-winning Project D.R.E.A.M.

Your help is needed to match a grant received from the New Jersey State Council on the Arts for $17,500 in order to expand Project D.R.E.A.M, to deepen the learning experience, and to allow more AHM students to enjoy dance like every other child. We invite you to participate by donating to our fundraising campaign by clicking HERE.

All proceeds will go to such goals as increasing the frequency of the workshops, including more of the student population, and presenting a student dance concert with the professional dance company. In the long run, Nai-Ni Chen Dance Company envisions the project becoming a community-based experience involving families, friends, and the community of Jersey City.