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Creating a Community of Brotherhood with Dance

Hearts of Men summer intensive dance program returns to Montclair State

Posted in: Arts

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Hearts of Men, a free, two-week summer intensive dance program for men age 13 and older, returns to Montclair State this summer from August 28 to September 11, as a joint presentation of the Department of Theatre and Dance at Montclair State and Earl Mosley’s Institute of the Arts. Final public performances will be held on September 10 and 11.

Hearts of Men confirms program founder and Montclair State dance instructor Earl Mosley’s belief that dance is a creative language that is readily accessed and understood by all. 

“Dance speaks directly to a feeling of belonging. I use it to create a community of brotherhood,” says Mosley, himself a celebrated dancer and choreographer. “Knowing I can use my expertise in dance to bring so many men together from so many different life experiences, ages and technical levels is what Hearts of Men is all about.” 

Sixty students took part in the first Hearts of Men program at Montclair State in 2014, which culminated in two sold-out dance performances, and was held again in New York City in 2015.

“Montclair State and the College of the Arts are proud to welcome back Hearts of Men,” says College of the Arts Dean Daniel Gurskis. “Serving as a resource to the community is central to our mission. Nothing exemplifies this better than Earl Mosley’s dedication to this uniquely inspiring event that is as much about humanity as it is about art.” 

During the first week, 60 to 65 participants – including several current Montclair State students, as well as men from around the region – take dance classes in everything from hip hop and ballet to modern dance and improvisation. They also attend seminars that explore the realities of a career in dance and how dance can help them achieve life goals.

“Dance requires a high level of discipline and sacrifice,” explains Mosley. “When a dancer masters the ability to concentrate at a level of excellence, most often that dancer will want to achieve other things at that same extreme level, whether or not they choose dance as a career.”

The dancers spend the second week rehearsing for the program’s September 10 and 11 performances, which will be held in the University’s Memorial Auditorium and are open to the public. 

Straight from the Heart

For Mosley, Hearts of Men is also about social justice. He knows how hard it is for young men to grow up when they are told how to act, dress and talk in order be accepted as men. 

“I see and feel a sense of relief in the participants when they see there is no judgment,” Mosley says. “I see and feel a sense of peace in their minds and hearts. And I see and feel inspiration soar and rise above any circumstances that could have potentially led them to the streets with no hope.”

Growing as Dancers and Men

Since graduating from Montclair State in 2014, Tracy Dunbar has pursued a dance career as a teacher and performer. He has taught at Montclair State and at DanceWorks in Montclair, as well as at the school associated with Nimbus Dance Works, which he currently performs with. He also dances with the Von Howard Project.

In 2014, Dunbar jumped at the opportunity to be a part of Hearts of Men and its network of male dancers. “Working and growing in an environment surrounded by other male dancers who share your passion is the most rewarding thing about this program,” he says. “You show up and dance and by the end of the program, you’ve grown by leaps and bounds without even realizing it.”

Realizing that there is no other dance intensive like Hearts of Men, dance major and rising senior Eric Parra has participated from the beginning. “What makes the Hearts of Men experience so unique is that I learn how to build upon my dancing, artistry and performance while learning about myself as a growing young adult,” he says. “This year, I’m most looking forward to seeing faces that I usually only get to see during the program season. I’m also excited to meet more men who will continue to fire up my inspiration to dance.”

“I always say that if you touch a young boy’s heart, you can save his life,” says Mosley. “I believe that’s exactly what Hearts of Men is about. I see everyone involved change into better versions of themselves. Hearts of Men will be in their hearts forever.”

For information and tickets, visit Hearts of Men.