What’s New With U? – Week 7

What’s Inside

What’s New With U? – Week Seven

The seventh and final week of camp had vocalists belting beautifully, dancers posing powerfully, and chess players cheering “checkmate.”

On Monday, Senior Instrumental Ensembles took to the stage, playing a variety of pieces from upbeat tangos to reimagined Beethoven classics. On Tuesday, Usdan dancers showed us their best jazz hands, hip-hop moves, and pirouettes. The dance party continued Wednesday as Dorrance Dance tapped their way onto campus. Discovery students hit the stage again on Thursday, and Junior and Senior Vocal Ensemble rounded out this season’s Festival program. 

Outside the Amphitheater, Leadership Institute got everyone in the spirit with U Day — a full day of fun activities to educate about sustainability, diversity/inclusion, and community. Wednesday afternoon Seniors celebrated the end-of-camp season with a Carnival/Pool Party, and Juniors strutted their stuff in a Parade leading from the Art department, around campus, and across the Amphitheater stage. 

Our Music and Dance classes held their final in-studio performances, and our Creative Writing storytellers closed the books on their readings. Usdan Troupe twirled their umbrellas for a Singin’ in the Rain encore, Drama Lab’s Dracula took a bite out of our hearts with their chilling talent, and Matinee Idols and DIY Theater had their curtain calls.  

At Friday’s Closing Ceremony, two Hip-Hop groups got the dance party started onstage and in the pit. Junior and Senior Vocal Ensembles sang “Siyahamba” followed by the Seniors leading a sing-a-long performance of “All You Need Is Love”. And throughout the ceremony, there was indeed a lot of love (and tears) for our incredible community, from our “Lifers” (campers who’ve attended for eight years) and staff (who’ve been at Usdan for a decade) to the graduating twelfth-graders closing out their time here. Additionally, there were a few special shoutouts to Usdan’s dedicated staff and faculty, maintenance crew, beloved Assistant House Manager, Andrew Schaeffler, and Usdan’s erstwhile mascot, Bean the pug, before the long-anticipated balloon drop.

With the last gong ring of the summer (special lighting brought to you by the Sustainable Design class), Usdan’s 2019 Season took its final bow.

Stay in touch – and see U next summer!

Here’s Looking at U

#AMoreSustainableU: Sustainability Tips and Tricks

Sustainability has been a big focus for us all summer, but these efforts don’t have to end just because the season is over. We encourage all Usdanites to continue to lead sustainable and environmentally conscious, as well as artistic, lives throughout the year.  

First-year Usdanite, Aissatou Bah, is already walking the walk and taking action. A dancer and sustainability advocate, Aissatou launched a petition for bus companies to be more sustainable.

Check out the video below to see what inspired her to start this campaign and where she hopes it will go after the summer ends. 


Finally, here’s bit of inspiration take us into the weekend:

“You’re off to great places! Today is your day! Your mountain is waiting, so get on your way!” – Dr. Seuss

Summer Learning #Goals

Take a look inside the Usdan classroom to see how our teachers and staff are collaborating with students and what their summer goals are. For this week’s segment, we asked Alicia Thompson, Intermediate Ballet, Modern/Contemporary, and West African Fusion Dance teacher to weigh in.

Alicia’s guiding question for the summer was:

“How can I best create a rewarding class experience and also have a rewarding performance experience for my students?”

With the aim to create a rewarding and fruitful dance experience, Alicia structured her class around the idea that dance is a continuous learning process.

In order to shift the focus from the performance being the end goal and being able to appreciate the act of dance-making more thoroughly, she worked to build a movement vocabulary in class to later be used for a larger piece of work. With this method, she was able to emphasize the importance of the learning process by teaching the dancers small phrases that she would later piece together for their performance.

Alicia also opened the floor for students to have more input in the class and performance process. She gave them the opportunity to choose what step from the vocabulary to practice first across the floor. For the performance, she gave them the liberty to work in peer-led smaller groups when fine-tuning and critiquing the dance.

Alicia reflected on the experience of learning and performing with her students after their performance this week.

Gearing Up: Merch Item of the Week

This week’s merch item is the Usdan towel.

Yes, camp is ending, but summer is still here for a little bit longer. Whether you’re lounging by the pool or catching waves at the beach or singing in the shower, you can bring along a little piece of Usdan with you.

Snag one of these towels for $10 and find more merch at the Usdan shop online or at our Welcome Center.

Up Next: Upcoming Events and Programming

We’re sad to see this summer come to a close, but we’re already looking forward to the 2020 season! Return2U closes at midnight August 16th, so pre-register now. 

By joining Return2U, you can receive 2019 rates and other perks. You must enroll in the same session length or longer than in 2019. 

Administration Corner

Don’t leave it behind

We’ll keep the memories of this summer forever, but we want to make sure that you get all of your children’s stuff back, from wayward water bottles, towels, lunch boxes, to art they created. 

The Long Island office will be open from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on August 19th and 20th, if you want to come by to pick up anything left behind. Please call first. FYI: We are happy to bring your child’s artwork back to the New York office for pick-up in September, just let us know.

Also, as a reminder, the Usdan Long Island office will be closed from August 21st through September 8th. Our New York office will be available via phone starting September 5th. 

Looking Back and Staying Connected 

If you and your family want to look back on these summer memories, you can find images and video on our Instagram, Facebook, and YouTube channel.

Follow our Instagram and Facebook for updated content, and subscribe to our YouTube to rewatch Festival Performances and weekly recap videos.


Executive Director Lauren Brandt Schloss has been giving us a blast from the past all season with these Polaroid photos.  Here’s the last batch for Summer 2019.

What Do U Think? Weekly Poll Question

This week, we asked campers: How will you take the spirit of Usdan with you after summer ends? Tell us at tellus@usdan.org.

Thank you to Lauren Brandt Schloss, Executive Director,
and our Newsletter Team for 2019.
Text: Meryl Cooper and Nicole Martinez
Video: Dave Schaeffler, Lucas Cavanaugh, Lindsay Rothenberg
Photo: Zoe Finn, Wayne Vollweiler, Lafiya Watson, Matt Zugale