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Our Story

Our Story / A Message from Our Founder

Berkshire Pulse was founded with the core belief that dance and the creative arts can profoundly enrich peoples’ lives—and that everyone should have direct access to the arts, regardless of their age, abilities, or life circumstance. As is often the case, we began with a simple idea:         

everyone deserves to experience this. 

With this belief as our driving force, Berkshire Pulse has been on an incredible (often challenging) journey to bring the arts to all. It is a project of passion and conviction that we—myself along with our dedicated teaching artists, staff, Board of Directors, and students—have grown slowly and steadily, beat by beat.  

Berkshire Pulse began in 1995 as an afterschool program for children in a gymnasium at the Eden Hill Recreation Center in Stockbridge, MA. We designed programs to offer children a chance to experience dance, music, and theater as tools for self-expression and as a way of connecting with others in a safe and supportive environment.  

The need for these programs was quickly evident and, within two years, we started offering afterschool and adult classes in additional locations throughout South Berkshire County. To make these arts even more accessible to those who might otherwise never have the opportunity, we launched our tuition assistance program and offered our first free in-school program in 1996. We witnessed the joy, the unique expression, and the wholesome connections that unfold when people are inspired and creating—evidence of the simple, yet profound, idea that brought Berkshire Pulse to life: everyone deserves to experience this

As we moved into our next phase of growth, a vibrant fabric of community participants ranging in ages 4-84 formed, and the seeds for Berkshire Pulse began to take root. With our mission firmly established, we knew that we needed to find a home.

After years of moving around (supported with temporary spaces courtesy of the town of Great Barrington, Simon’s Rock, and Berkshire South Community Center), we eventually found a space: a historic textile mill in Housatonic. With an extensive three-year fundraising campaign—and a lot of generosity from architects, builders, donors, community friends and family—we moved into our gorgeous studios at 420 Park Street in 2014. Finally, beside the river that weaves through our county, we had a home to share with our community.                        

Although we’ve grown over the decades, our mission has never changed. We started with an intention to make the arts more accessible and we’ve stayed true to that promise. To date, we have offered free programs to thousands of children in public schools throughout the region, affordable studio space to hundreds of emerging artists, and countless performances for audiences in our tristate community. Our young choreographers have performed their original work to raise awareness of significant social issues, at local and national venues. Our students have grown up at Pulse and returned later to become teachers, administrators, and mentors. 

Most importantly, each year since we began, students, young and old, have begun and continued their artistic journey because of our tuition assistance program. No one has ever been turned away from Berkshire Pulse due to an inability to pay—inclusivity, accessibility, and creativity are truly the beating heart that sustains our Pulse—and 25 years later, we are more convinced than ever of what we knew back then: everyone deserves to experience this.

I hope you’ll come and move, create, and grow with us. Know that you are always welcome.       

Fondly,       

Bettina Montano   

Founder + Artistic Director      

Meet Our Teaching Artists

Our roster of highly trained artists bring their passion, generosity, and creativity into everything they do at Berkshire Pulse. 

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Our Studios, Your Second Home

Our studios are part of what makes Pulse so special—and we are happy to share them. Set in a beautifully reimagined mill space and nestled between the rolling Berkshire hills and the Housatonic River, our welcoming studio spaces are perfect for rentals, special programs, and residencies.                                  

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Making the Arts More Accessible

At Pulse, access to the arts means making our classes affordable to all. Our Tuition Assistance and EBT benefits programs assure that everyone can participate in our programs, regardless of economic circumstance.

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ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

Photography by Eric LimonSusan Quinn, and Richard Migot

Berkshire Pulse