Trenton Education Dance Institute (TEDI)
Member of ANDI – The Association of National Dance Institutes
Delivery of school-based services has been one of the agency core service areas for more than 30 years. The Trenton Education Dance Institute (TEDI) is part of CHSofNJ’s range of school-based services, serving public school students in grades 5-10 during the school-day and after-school. Following the National Dance Institute (NDI) pedagogy which subscribes to the belief that the arts, including dance and live music, have a unique power to engage children and motivate them towards excellence, the TEDI program focuses on building self-confidence, teamwork skills and achievement in dance, school and life and aligns well with the CHSofNJ’s mission of saving children’s lives and healthy families.
Jacques d’Amboise, legendary New York City Ballet dancer, founded National Dance Institute (NDI) in 1976 with the belief that arts have a unique power to engage children and motivate them towards excellence. NDI has become one of the nation’s most prestigious arts-in-education organizations. The goal of the program is not to train professional dancers but to teach young people that through hard work, rigor, discipline and joy, children can overcome personal challenges and discover their greatest potential.
TEDI offers a tailored curriculum which challenges students’ cognitive and physical capabilities while igniting self-esteem and executive function skills. The programs include:
- Weekly, in-school classes for 5th graders in Trenton public elementary schools;
- After-school SWAT Team (Scholarship for the Willing, Achieving & Talented) program for selected TEDI 5th graders;
- Celebration Team Scholarship Program for 6th – 10th grade TEDI alumni;
- TEDI Alumni Association for program graduates.
Each May, the TEDI program presents its Event of the Year with live performances for school, family and community audiences.
TEDI inspires students to achieve both as individuals and group members.
TEDI changes lives… one child at a time.
** If you have special accessibility requirements or handicap needs related to a disability in accessing the performance sites, please contact us at 609-695-6274
During the 2020-2021, the Trenton Education Dance Institute (TEDI) will reach approximately 115 Trenton Public School District students from Kindergarten through Grade 10 with in-school and after-school dance classes, journal writing, mid-year demonstrations, and Event of the Year culminating performances. Dedicated to access and full participation, every Grade 5 student at participating schools dance in weekly TEDI classes and scheduled performances. The TEDI Event of the Year is a great source of community engagement and pride.
A survey of 2014-2015 TEDI program participants showed the following outcomes:
- 88% of respondents reported an improvement in self-confidence
- 73% said they had “overcome their fears”
- 78% said TEDI helped them get along better with others
- 86% said they learned how to work with others in a group
- 72% said they were more respectful of others because of TEDI
t started around a table in 1989, after 13 years of success for the National Dance Institute (NDI), The Times publisher Richard Bilotti invited NDI founder and principal dancer with the New York City Ballet Jacques d’Amboise to meet a group of city and school district leaders in Trenton to discuss the possibility of a Residency program for Trenton youth. Joining Richard and Jacques were Michael Newhouse, General Manager of The Times; Ed Meara, Executive Director of the Mercer County Chamber of Commerce; a representative of the Mayor’s office; and Carol Belt, Art Resource Specialist for Trenton Schools on behalf of Superintendent Crosby Copeland. Jacques understood that the arts have a unique ability to engage children and motivate them toward excellence. He captivated the room with stories of NDI, and the group was inspired to begin a journey that has changed the lives of thousands of children in Trenton over these 25 years.
Two fifth grade classes were selected to pioneer the NDI residency program in Trenton; one from Franklin School and one from Grant School. Superintendent Copeland, Assistant Superintendent Pat Maffei, Executive Directors Nicholas Burke and Julie Dixon Thomas, school principals, educators, parents, and community volunteers all worked together to bring the idea of Trenton’s first NDI Residency to life. For two weeks, students rehearsed in the auditorium of the Board of Education building, learning first hand from Jacques d’Amboise, Ellen Weinsten, Kay Gayner and Jerry Korman. The culmination of this effort was the performance of “Fat City”. The dancers performed 13 shows on stage at the Trenton Central High auditorium. This first production was such a success that it was barely over when plans began to unfold for the following year’s Residency. The following years took the Residency and its vibrant curriculum to other schools in Trenton, helping hundreds of children develop self-esteem, discipline, and an appreciation for hard work.
In 1992, the NDI Residency program became Trenton Education Dance Institute (TEDI) and its first officers Richard Bilotti (President), Dot Albert (Vice President), Carol Belt (Secretary) and Nicholas Burke (Treasurer) assembled a Board of Trustees dedicated to the mission of teaching the art and life skills of dance to students in Trenton Public Schools. TEDI has had a series of talented Artistic Directors, each dedicated to the program’s mission and its NDI pedagogy, advancing the direction of the program, and nurturing it from its initial 3-week residencies to what is now a full year in-school program. TEDI encourages the participation of all students, including those with special needs who begin and progress at their own pace. TEDI’s former Artistic Director of thirteen years, Dufftin Garcia strengthened the program’s lasting impact on students as he further developed TEDI’s curriculum of advanced classes. Following participation in the core in-school program, selected TEDI students are offered an opportunity to attend advanced after-school classes as members of SWAT (Scholarship for the Willing, Achieving and Talented) Team, and 6th–10th graders can audition for the TEDI Celebration Team which continues to build skill and discipline.
Each year, the TEDI Artistic Team selects a theme with careful consideration of curricular connections and ties to the NJ State Standards and District Ends Policies. Students keep written journals translating movement, feelings and emotions to words. The success of TEDI as an in-school program is supported by the open dialogue between the TEDI Artistic Director and teachers, ensuring to incorporate other areas of study such as math, geography or science into TEDI classes to reinforce educational concepts.
For many years, TEDI received major funding from The Times and the Trenton Public School District. From 1998 to 2006, former Superintendent James Lytle understood and recognized the importance of the arts for students and their healthy development, and was able to provide significant TEDI funding.
Due to the economic downturn, TEDI’s funding was cut over recent years, and TEDI’s board sought new partnerships to keep the momentum going. In 2011, TEDI joined with The Children’s Home Society of New Jersey (CHSofNJ). By the determination of two committed boards and CHSofNJ staff members Dolores Ijames-Bryant (Director of School-Based Programs) and Louise Shabazz (Administrator of School-Based Programs), the two organizational cultures have blended into one cohesive unit preparing TEDI for continued success for the students of Trenton.
Today, TEDI enjoys strong support from Trenton Public Schools Interim Superintendent Ronald Lee and his leadership team, as well as the current school board. TEDI’s Interim Artistic Director Yolanda Drislane has plans to further enrich the NDI pedagogy with the incorporation of increased connections to core standards in the classrooms. This year’s talented team of staff, production team, and volunteers, led by Drislane, is already preparing to launch TEDI into another year of energy, creativity, learning opportunities, achievement and a lifetime impact on Trenton’s youth.
TEDI could not be the ground-breaking program that it is today if not for its supporters throughout the years. As we celebrate more than 30 years of the TEDI journey, we thank Jacques d’Amboise for planting a seed that has grown to touch the lives of so many in the Greater Trenton area. We also thank the professionals and volunteers who have helped shape TEDI into the program it is today, the talented children who dedicate so much of their time to TEDI, and the thousands of community members who show their support of the arts and Trenton youth by attending TEDI performances.
- Letter of Congratulations from Senator Cory A. Booker
- The Bunbury Company TEDI grant
- TEDI 25th Anniversary Event 2013
- NJ Council Arts TEDI grant
- PACF grant July
- Dodge Grant TEDI
- Janssen TEDI grant
- Community Foundation NJ TEDI
- The Bunbury Company TEDI grant
TEDI in the News
- Artistic Director: Kayla James, of Hamilton, NJ has been dancing since she was ten years old. She trained under the direction of llana Clyde, Dr. Kim Vaccaro, and Kelly Rech-Astbury in several styles including ballet, pointe, jazz, musical theatre, tap, hip hop, and contemporary. Kayla’s choreography has been on national and international platforms by dance studios, independent soloists, and gymnasts. Some of Kayla’s experience consists of touring as a backstage manager for Groove National Dance Competition and being the instructor and choreographer at the Tech Center for Performing Arts. Kayla has a passion for her students to learn skills that will help them succeed in life through their participation in dance, which is both the NDI mission and the CHSofNJ mission. Kayla studied at Rider University earning her Bachelor of Science in Business Administration and Sports Management.
- Bunbury Company
- Community Foundation of NJ
- Crystal Moore/Bloomberg’s “Dollars for Your Hours” Campaign
- Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation
- Janssen Pharmaceuticals, Inc.
- Katherine Hatton and Richard Bilotti Fund of the Princeton Area Community Foundation
- Kinder Morgan Foundation
- Mary C. Roebling Foundation
- New Jersey State Council on the Arts
- Princeton Area Community Foundation
- Rose and Louise H. Linowitz Foundation
- Trenton Public Schools