Welcoming our First Executive Director

Dear Pulse Community,

I am writing to share exciting news – we have started planning for the future with an expansion initiative and have begun by hiring our first-ever Executive Director to accompany me in leadership of the organization. Abigail (Abi) Rollins will join Berkshire Pulse on July 15th!

Pulse has grown exponentially: increased community demand, regional expansion, and an ever-growing list of diverse offerings in the creative arts. Pulse will continue to expand in every way, and Abi will help us manage our growth in a way that stays true to our mission.

Abi Rollins joins Pulse from Berkshire Opera Festival, where she has served as Executive Director since 2019. Abi moved to the Berkshires from Boston, where she held the positions of General Manager and later Managing Director of Commonwealth Shakespeare Company, for a total of nine years. She honed her many skills in arts administration through positions at Trisha Brown Dance Company, Lyric Stage Company, and Boston Ballet, among others. She has an MA in Arts Administration from Boston University, and a double-major undergraduate degree in Dance and Psychology from Kenyon College. 

At Pulse, Abi will drive strategic and business planning as well as development, and will oversee day-to-day operations including finance, administration, and facility operations. About the role, Abi said “I first began my career specifically with the aim of working with and supporting dance artists. Along the way, I have had many rewarding opportunities outside of dance, gaining real world experience and refining my skills as an arts administrator. I know this is the opportunity I’ve been working towards during my 20+ years of learning and working in dance and arts administration.” Abi first experienced Pulse in early 2023 when she started taking dance classes there after a long hiatus from dancing. She was immediately moved by the warmth and culture of respect for dancers of all abilities and ages and inspired to apply for the Executive Director position when we announced it earlier this winter. 

Our Board President Gail Belmuth said “Pulse has entered a new chapter of strategic growth, and Abi will help us manage that growth while also building for a sustainable future. She is a great addition to a wonderful team.”

While Abi and I will partner in many areas, having an experienced, collaborative partner means that I can turn my attention more fully to my role as Artistic Director, leading Pulse’s mission and artistic vision, curriculum development, and continuing standards of excellence in programming and performance.

Please join me in welcoming Abigail Rollins to the Pulse family!

My Very Best,

Bettina Montano

Artistic Director/Founder

Community Class Highlights

Community Modern – Intermediate+

With Madison Palffy

Intermediate – ages 14 to adult

📆Thursdays 6:00pm-7:30pm, June 6 – August 22 (no class July 4)

Drawing from a variety of modern dance traditions and techniques, this class emphasizes classwork which develops strength, alignment, agility, musicality and versatility of expression.

Classes consist of structured improvisation, inversions and floorwork, exercises to challenge rhythm and musicality, and phrases to encourage students to move in a full bodied physicality that travels through space.

Step and Stretch into Spring!

Soul Steps is offering a free Community Workshop and informal presentation of excerpts from their musical “Step Show: The Musical” for ages 10 and up from 1:00-3:00pm on Saturday, April 6th!

Soul Steps is a NYC-based dance-theater company founded in 2005, dedicated to teaching and performing African American step dance. They are in residence at Berkshire Pulse for 3 weeks while they teach step dance in the Pittsfield Public Schools and develop their new musical about the history of step dance.

Want to be a part of the Spring Celebration? Consider becoming a sponsor! Sponsorships help fund our Tuition Assistance Program, which make educational and empowering arts experiences accessible to all.

Yoga is Stretching Out until May!

All Levels Yoga: Lunar New Year’s Series

with Bethany Trozzo

A weekly class series to help students explore their mind-body connection through foundational yoga postures, sequences, and breathing exercises. Focus is on creating safe alignment, cultivating body awareness, and relaxation.

Postures introduced and practiced will include: Sun salutations A/B, chair, downward facing dog, warrior 1 & 2, balancing poses, mountain, spinal twists, savasana, Ujjayi breath, and others. Class themes will focus on connecting with the energy of the Lunar New Year, Year of the Wood Dragon.

Please bring your own yoga mat.

Ages 18+

 📆Tuesdays March 26th – May 7th

🕕5:45pm – 6:45pm

New Opportunities Await at Pulse This March!

Group of students sitting in a semi circle while being read a story

March is almost here, and we are excited to share updates about our Tuition Assistance program!

We are so proud to announce our new partnership with the Wonderfund! The Wonderfund is a nonprofit serving foster children and families engaged with the Massachusetts Department of Children and Families. Families can present their Wonderfund Access Card in-person at Pulse’s Front Desk and fill out a short form to receive an 100% discount on Performing Arts Program Enrollments, Community Classes, and Pulse Summer programs!

New Family Class Passes! These special family passes can be shared by anyone age 13+ living in one household!

Three children sitting at a table doing arts and crafts

Dance Making/Art Making

with Sara Kiesel

This 6-week workshop is designed for students who love to dance and do ART. We will explore how art and dance intersect by dancing and “drawing dance” with different mediums – from simple crayon sketches to more involved projects using paper, collage, and shadow play. Students will sharpen their visual skills, learn to let go of how something is “supposed ” to look, and gain confidence in diving into art while exploring basic elements of dance.

Ages 6-9

 📆Saturdays March 9th – April 13th

 🕘9:00am – 10:00am

All art making materials will be provided!

Residences at Berkshire Pulse

We are so excited to announce our newest residency taking place right now in our studios! Sayer Mansfield and Sydney McManus will be starting their initial research and creation for a contemporary dance theater work. This will be their second creation together, their first work “Jane & Fiona” was created in residence at Berkshire Pulse summer 2022 and has since been performed at The Foundry and Jacobs Pillow.

Want to learn more about residencies at Berkshire Pulse? Artists-in-residence at Pulse have the opportunity to join our community and use the studios on an exchange basis. Pending studio availability and application approval, artists can receive studio time at a discounted rate (or free of charge) in exchange for teaching classes, conducting workshops, presenting in-studio performances or Q&A, or other types of studio work. Artists can also request additional dancers or other Pulse resources, as available. We welcome projects in any stage and wish to support artists who are working towards a performance and artists who have an emphasis on process and experimentation. We always look forward to having new work created and shared in our space!

Spend your Summer Dancing!

Berkshire Pulse is excited to have summer dance intensives for ages 4 to 18 running June through August, alongside community classes for dancers of all ages!

Our offerings range in style and genre, from contemporary and choreography, to musical theater, hip hop, and more. Scroll to see all our intensives or check out our website.

Pre-registration is open! Save your spot and start your dream summer today!

Summer Intensives

🔎Dance Discovery (Ages 8-13)

📅 Monday to Friday, June 24 – 28

🕘 9am – 3pm; 9am – 12pm (half day)

This intensive has a half-day option for dancers ages 8-9.

An exciting journey into the engaging and rewarding world of dance, this one-week program provides an introduction to dance forms including ballet, modern, African, and more. Dancers will also have a chance to practice dance-making of their own!

🎶Berkshire Pulse Intensive (Ages 11+)

📅 Monday to Friday, July 8 – 20

🕘 9am – 4pm

Second week, Monday to Saturday, 9am – 4pm 

This two-week program allows dancers ages 11+ to develop excellence in technique, as well as versatility and collaboration in the creative process. Daily classes will include ballet, contemporary, jazz, hip hop, swing, salsa, and flamenco. Dancers will explore dance-making through partnering and improvisation. Plus, field trips to local partnering organizations. For students with at least two years of prior dance training.  

🚀Dance Adventure (Ages 4-7)

📅 Monday to Friday, July 22 – 26 

🕘 9am – 12pm (half day)

This program for our youngest dancers invites them on an expedition into the exciting, engaging, and rewarding world of dance. Classes will include creative dance, tumbling, drumming, and more! 

👟Hip Hop and Street Style (Ages 10+)

📅 Monday to Friday, July 29 – August 2  

🕘 9am – 3:30pm

In this week-long program, dancers will learn foundational movements and techniques of hip-hop and street style dance, alongside discussions about the cultural meaning and significance of these dance forms. The program will create an encouraging space to try out what you learn and most importantly show off your unique style and personality while freestyling in daily cyphers.

🎭Musical Theater (Ages 10+)

📅 Monday to Saturday, August 5 – 10 

🕘 9am – 3pm

This week-long program gives students the opportunity to jump right into the world of musical theater with classes in broadway jazz, voice, acting, and improvisation. Students will learn healthy warm-up practices for the voice and body, and work on character development, expression, participating in an ensemble, and more. The program directors will work with students to produce an informal performance for the final day of the program. 

💃🏾Movement Lab: A Workshop in Professional Practice w/ Joe Poulson and Isadora Wolfe (Ages 17+)

📅 Monday to Saturday, August 12 – 16 

🕙10am – 3pm

Advanced teens and undergrad students 17+, adults with advanced contemporary experience

In this week long intensive, student artists will be immersed in the experience of a dance company: challenging morning class imparting new skills, honing technique, and full-bodied dancing. Followed by an afternoon of process: Joe and Isadora will guide and direct the “company” through various tasks involving dynamic phrases, improvisation and mini-modules using contemporary, contact and physical theater practices. The emphasis is on the process, and sharing the information that Joe and Isadora have acquired through their years of experience inside companies and as makers in their own right. Expect to end each day sweaty, spent, inspired and filled up. 

Starting in 2024, Berkshire Pulse is implementing a $20 non-refundable registration fee for our summer intensives. This charge covers administrative needs and is only charged once per student. If you register for multiple intensives, you will only pay one registration fee per student.

Let dance keep you warm!

Stay warm with dance this winter during one of our winter intensives!

Ballet Winter Intensive with Hillary Jackson and Vincent Brewer

for ages 11 to adult

📅 February 23-25

Open to dancers enrolled in Ballet 2-4 and beginner/intermediate adults.

When Paths Cross: Contemporary Dance, Theater, and Soft Acrobatics with Fern Katz and Ricardo Paz

for ages 14 to adult

📅 February 23-25

Open to dancers ages 14+ and intermediate/advanced adults.

Save the dates! Our summer intensive schedule is live on our website. Registration will open in February.

Community Classes for You

Want to take multiple classes in one day? Here’s a schedule for you to pick and choose from!

Tuesday Evening Classes

Get movin’ and groovin’ with Madison Palffy in Dance Moves & Grooves, relax in Yoga with Bethany Trozzo, and finish out the night with your tap shoes for Community Tap with Teak Welch.
Wednesday Evening Classes

Start your Wednesday learning to sing and act in Community Musical Theater with Wendy Welch. Then, take Bettina Montano’s Community Modern for Beginners.
Thursday Evening Classes

Get in touch with yourself in Shake Your Soul with Madeline Depres-Chen. Later, you can grab a partner in Swing with Brianne Szymanski (no partners required)!

Are you a morning person? Classes for you:

We Met the Match!

Together, we met our matching gift challenge! You helped us raise over $15,000 for the Tuition Assistance Program in less than 3 weeks!

Thank you to Alander Construction and everyone in our incredible community who donated to match their generous gift.

You can still give to our Tuition Assistance Program for 2024 and continue to help us make our programming accessible to all people!

Start Your New Year with Dance
Registration for our Spring session is underway! Be sure to check out our offerings and sign up.

Community Classes begin on January 8, and Youth Performing Arts Program Classes begin on January 16.

New Community Classes

We are excited to have returning favorites and new classes in 2024! Learn more about our Community Classes for Teens and Adults by clicking the button below.

Community Classes begin next week, unless otherwise noted.

Dance Moves & Grooves with Madison Palffy

📅 Tuesdays
🕓 4:15-5:30pm
For beginner movers ages 16+

Community Modern with Bettina Montano

📅 Wednesdays
🕡 6:45-7:45pm
For beginner movers ages 16+

Yoga Series with Bethany Trozzo

📅 Tuesdays, January 30 to March 12
🕠 5:45-6:45pm
For all levels ages 16+

Spring Registration is Open!

Registration for our Spring session is underway! Be sure to check out our offerings and sign up.

Community Classes begin on January 8, and Youth Performing Arts Program Classes begin on January 16.

Double your gift!

We’re so grateful to have received a matching challenge gift from Alander Construction for the third year in a row, which means every dollar donated will be doubled – up to $7,500! You can donate here or by clicking the button below.
Annual Report cover page. Two young dancers oustide.

NEW in 2024: Winter Intensives

Ballet Intensive
with Hillary Jackson and Vincent Brewer
for ages 11 to adult
📅 February 23-25
This intermediate-level weekend intensive will focus on ballet technique and conditioning, as well as pre/beginners pointe and variation work. Each day will begin with Vaganova floor barre and conditioning, followed by a ballet class and pointe class. Then, dancers will learn and rehearse a variation from Paquita. Develop your passion for ballet while strengthening your artistry! 
Open to dancers enrolled in Ballet 2-4 and beginner/intermediate adults.

When Paths Cross: Contemporary Dance, Theater, and Soft Acrobatics
with Fern Katz and Ricardo Paz
for ages 14 to adult
📅 February 23-25
The purpose of this workshop is to spark a creative burst of energy and playfulness, to foster communication and teamwork, all within a theatrical/dance context. In this workshop, we will teach how to be resourceful, quick-thinking, and use our instincts to create; let’s discover the vast realm of creative possibilities in this weekend workshop!
Open to dancers ages 14+ and intermediate/advanced adults.

Don’t Miss: Berkshire Pulse Dancers at NightWood

Nighttime picture at The Mount

Berkshire Pulse teaching artists and choreographers are performing site-specific duets at The Mount. Duets include Laura Coe and Liam Coote, Veronica Bone and Akinyemi Blackshear, Gillian Ebersole and Shannon Nulf.
📅 Wed-Sat, December 20-23 
🕠 5:20 and 6:20pm 

In-School & Community Program Spotlight

Five teen students in a school classroom.

This fall, our Moving Life Stories program, led by Tom Truss, took off at Pittsfield High, Taconic High, and Mt. Everett High, engaging high school students for the first time.

We’re proud to showcase how this dance and storytelling program builds lifelong skills, meeting school standards with a focus on self-reflection, physical awareness, confidence, and social-emotional intelligence. 

Beyond high schools, we’ve successfully run a community Moving Life Stories series for six weeks at the William Stickney Pittsfield Adult Learning Center with students who’ve returned to school to obtain their GED and learn English.

Looking back at our year…

Your generosity is at the heart of Berkshire Pulse.

Just last week, we were so honored to be named the First Place Winner in three categories (Arts Organization, Art Classes, Dance Studio/Classes) for the Rural Intelligence Readers’ Choice Awards.

This is a testament to the spirit of community that surrounds Berkshire Pulse. To all who placed nominations and votes in our name, to those who spread the word about Pulse, and to those who attend our programming across the county – you make Pulse possible.

We wanted to share our annual impact report with you. Click the button below to learn more about our work inside and out of the studio and how to support the future of Pulse.

Double your gift!

We’re are so grateful to have received a matching challenge gift from Alander Construction for the third year in a row, which means every dollar donated will be doubled– up to $7,500!

Berkshire Pulse Dancers at NightWood

Nighttime picture at The Mount

Berkshire Pulse teaching artists and choreographers are performing site-specific duets at The Mount. Duets include Laura Coe and Liam Coote, Veronica Bone and Akinyemi Blackshear, Gillian Ebersole and Shannon Nulf.

📅 December 16, 17, 20, 21, 22, 23 

🕠 5:30 and 6:30pm 

Our Spring Schedule is Live!

Shakia instructing hip hop students

Start your new year with dance! Registration for 2024 classes opens next week on Monday, December 11.

In-School Program Spotlight

Sara Kiesel holding a tambourine for a little kid to hit

This Fall, Berkshire Pulse is piloting the Dance for the Special Child program at Muddy Brook Elementary and Undermountain Elementary School with Sara Kiesel, Pulse’s Special Education Curriculum Advisor and Teaching Artist. Each week, Sara visits 4 integrated pre-K classrooms and 1 substantially separate classroom.

Here’s what one classroom teacher has to say about the program:

Sara is amazing! She has such a calm way about her that she draws all of my children to her and her calm nature. She integrates language into every aspect of dance and practices turn-taking, sharing, and breathing exercises, just to name a few.  

Sara explores body parts, spatial relationships, and dance elements to each child’s ability. Sara is great at differentiating what each child’s abilities are and how to help them progress. The children get very excited on Thursdays when they see Ms. Sara’s photo on our visual schedule and know she is coming. We love having Ms. Sara teach dance to our class and hope that this continues.

Having a program for special needs children as wonderful as this, in our small town, is nothing less than spectacular!!!”

We are grateful for YOU!

Thank you for being a part of what makes Pulse so special – the people who bring our studios to life.

We wanted to share our annual impact report with you. Click the button below to learn more about our work inside and out of the studio and how to support the future of Pulse.

Annual Report cover page. Two young dancers oustide.

November is also Native American Heritage Month. We acknowledge that we are learning, creating, and gathering on the ancestral homelands of the Muhheaconneok people, who are the indigenous peoples of the land upon which Berkshire Pulse sits.

Despite the tremendous hardship of being forced from their land, today their community resides in Wisconsin and is known as the Stockbridge-Munsee Community.

You can read more about Native American Heritage Month at the Massachusetts Center for Native American Awareness.

We are still open next Monday and Tuesday for classes. Our studios will be closed Wednesday, November 22 through Sunday, November 26.

In-School Program Spotlight

Kids break dancing in a gym

The Afterschool Dance Program at the Boys & Girls Club is a pilot partnership to provide free, high-quality, and youth-driven dance programming for Pittsfield middle and high school students. This fall, we are holding Hip-Hop and House classes taught by Madison Palffy and Laura Coe on Thursdays for 9 weeks, with 13 participating so far. We plan to continue and build this program for the Spring session as well as introduce a mini-intensive during their school February vacation. 

“We have a really great group of middle schoolers! They’re both enthusiastic and friendly with each other, I think they’re excited about the material Madison is bringing in and telling friends and siblings about it.” ~ Laura Coe, Teaching Assistant

Upcoming Workshops for Teens & Adults

A dance teacher addressing students on a dance studio
📅 Fridays
🕕 6:15pm

Come dance with Dashawn Davis on November 17 and Shakia Barron in December and January from 6:15-7:45pm! For ages 12 to adult
📅 Mondays in November
🕤 9:30am

Joanne Bockemuehl-Jackson leads a beginner series this November. This series is targeted to everyone that is curious about tapping into their own passionate courage to allow themselves to stand up and be seen! For ages 18+
📅 Thursdays during Community Modern starting November 9
🕕 6pm

Explore Dunham Technique, an Afro-Modern dance technique, with Saroya Corbett in this special series. For beginner and intermediate dancers ages 14+

Thank you Teaching Assistants!

We are so grateful for the dedication and leadership of our 10 Teaching Assistants (not all pictured) Beatrice, Chris, Georgia, Maya, Eva Sophia, Antonia, Ned, D’Ari, Megan, and Estrella.

These dancers are an integral part of our Youth Performing Arts Program, and their love for dance inspires our younger dancers. Thank you!

Share your love for Pulse!

Thanks to community nomination, Berkshire Pulse made it to the voting round of the Rural Intelligence Readers’ Choice Awards!

Berkshire Pulse is nominated in multiple categories under Arts & Entertainment, including Best Dance Classes/Studio and Best Arts Organization.

Help spread the word about Berkshire Pulse by visiting RuralIntelligence.com/ReadersChoice to cast your vote! Voting runs until November 13, and you can cast nominations every day. Voting is easy – you just need to enter a valid email!

In-School Program Spotlight

An indigenous man in front of a stage with a 
drum next to a standing woman

Shawn Stevens, from the Stockbridge Munsee Mohican reservation in Wisconsin, and Shannon Chada from Chicago, made their annual pilgrimage to their ancestral native lands in Berkshire County. Before being displaced, the Mohican/Munsee land extended across six states, including parts of Vermont, New York, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey.

Berkshire Pulse partnered with Shawn and Shannon to bring their dedicated work of educating and connecting with people of all ages and backgrounds to local schools. They held school assemblies in three Berkshire County Elementary schools and had an in-depth discussion with first-year students at Simon’s Rock, reaching over 1000 students.

Upcoming Beatboxing Workshops

Galush holding a synthesizer with blue and pink lights on him.

We’re excited to have John “Galush” Galusha teaching two upcoming beatboxing workshops as part of our Wacky Wednesday Workshop Series. Join us on November 8 and 15 to try beatboxing!

In these workshops, you will learn the ways beatboxing can be implemented into a musical mental health practice along with the beatbox basics: BTK and variations on BTK.

for ages 12 to adult
📅 Wednesdays from October 11 – 25
🕡 6:45-8pm

All workshops are open to absolute beginners, meaning you don’t need any related experience to participate. Just bring your curiosity and an open mind!

Join our Dances of Africa Class

Does your child love rhythm, music, and dance? Do you want to add or join a dance class this fall? It’s not too late! 

Join us for our upcoming DANCES OF AFRICA class!
📅 Tuesdays beginning November 7
🕛 4:45-5:45pm

This class is for ages 8-10, with Nkoula Badila and Angel Lau.

There’s still time to register if you haven’t yet.

Berkshire Pulse