Community dance and wellness non-profit in Park Slope
Spoke the Hub Dancing, Inc is a non-profit community arts organization in Park Slope, Brooklyn. It was founded over 40 years ago by Elise Long - a red-headed woman with a long braid down her back. Elise is a dancer, choreographer, designer, artist, writer, dog lover and community organizer.
I first met Elise shortly after I retired and signed up for her lunch hour ’Cardio-Pump-and Dance’ class. Soon I found myself participating in her yearly ’flash mob’ which is both intergenerational (participants have ranged from 5 to 70) and includes dancer wannabes (like me) and professional dancers. We have performed at street fairs and fund-raisers at the Grand Prospect Hall.
Spoke the Hub runs dance and wellness classes for all ages and backgrounds and sponsors performances, salons, a street festival (Local Produce), an arts summer camp (Camp Gowanee) and supports dancers through scholarships, performance opportunities and subsidized studio/rehearsal space.
In addition to discovering dancing in my retirement, I have had the opportunity to become a dance photographer through volunteering my services . Elise has nurtured me as I have created a portfolio of dance photography. ( you can view some on my website. - https://www.marciabricker.com/dance#0)
Each month Elise and the staff send out a newsletter chock-a-block with classes, activities, photos, and inspiration. I and many others have filled my calendar with events to look forward to. During the current quarantine Spoke the Hub’s fantastic teachers have been continuing the ballet, hip-hop, tap, yoga and more classes through Zoom.
Designed by Elise, the main Park Slope Re-Creation Center features a huge skylight and always has community artist or children’s artwork on display. Decorating the outside tree pit, entry hall floors and bathroom are amazing community-made mosaics. The new Gowanus annex is a repurposed industrial space with flexibility for dance, theater and film screenings. It has a wonderful balcony with repurposed iron gate work.
The pandemic is a scary and potentially devastating time for Spoke the Hub and for all small, not-for-profit community arts organizations. Spoke the Hub survives predominantly on earned income from class tuition and space rentals to other artists and community members - and those two income streams have vanished. I know Elise is doing her best to research and apply for any government and small business financial aid funding, but most of what she is seeing is not enough to keep the doors open long term and most will likely come too late -- if it comes at all.
In the next two weeks the decision will be made about whether the summer programs will take place and all deposits need to be refunded.
(added April 2020)