Monday, April 25, 2011

Panoply 2011: Dance Your Dreams & Project UP

For the third year in a row, Dance Your Dreams! will participate in Huntsville's Panoply Arts Festival! This year, we're excited to add Project UP to the performance roster. All four Dance Your Dreams! classes, plus Project UP, will perform selections from their upcoming Spring Recital.

Want to come watch them perform? Head over to the Valley Jubilee Stage (near the Embassy Suites), this Friday, April 29 at 7 p.m.!

(And watch the above video to see their performance last year at Panoply 2010!)

Monday, April 18, 2011

Inspired HeARTs - Special Needs Art Class

You may know a little bit about The Johnny Stallings Arts Program here at Merrimack Hall. All classes within this program provide performing arts education for children and teens with special needs.

You've probably heard about Dance Your Dreams!, Project UP, and Camp Merrimack. What you may not have heard about yet is our newest class - Inspired HeARTs.

When Dance Your Dreams launched in 2008, the class was intended to provide dance education to children who cannot participate in mainstream classes due to their special needs (both physical and developmental).

Once the first year came to a close, we realized they had very few options for summer camps. We launched Camp Merrimack in 2009 as an option for families with special-needs children.

As the children began to age, we found that they also grow! Our volunteers, many of whom are teens themselves, could not necessarily lift the teens and assist them with movements. Debra Jenkins and Hayley Henderson then conceived and launched Project UP - a performing company for teens with developmental disabilities. We intended for the students in Dance Your Dreams! to graduate up to the Junior Company of Project UP, and eventually a Senior Company (which will also include adults).

You can see - we have created all of our programs out of needs, as we observe them through the families and students who participate in our classes. This past year, we decided to launch Inspired HeARTs, a visual art program for children and teens ages 10-17 with special needs.

Like Dance Your Dreams!, Inspired HeARTs pairs students one-on-one with volunteers who provide help, support and guidance.

Inspired HeARTs was developed in conjunction with two senior thesis students in the art program at the University of Alabama in Huntsville. These student teachers develop projects each week for the students, and teach them art history as well. We are so grateful to them for the patience and love they show to our students every week!

For more information on any of our programs (including enrollment, volunteering or donations), visit our website at!

Merrimack Hall on Cookie Logic

Last week, the Cookie Logic television show came to Merrimack Hall and spent the whole day filming their 59th episode in our building!

You can watch the episode in its entirety above. Thanks to Cookie Logic for featuring us!

Monday, April 11, 2011

Melora Hardin comes to Huntsville

We're so excited to announce that TV, film, music & stage star Melora Hardin is coming to Merrimack Hall! You probably recognize Melora from her continuing appearances on NBC's hit sitcom "The Office" (she plays Michael Scott's ex-girlfriend Jan Levinson).

In addition to her acting chops, Melora boasts a long list of music credits. She'll be performing two concerts here in Huntsville.

So what's the backstory? How did we get in touch with Melora to bring her here to North Alabama? Well, you might remember that Billy Bob Thornton has twice appeared at Merrimack Hall with his band, The Boxmasters. Billy Bob's manager for his music career also represents Melora. They reached out to Debra & Alan Jenkins here at Merrimack Hall, inquiring about Melora performing here. We couldn't be more thrilled to present this exciting showcase to you.

Melora's weekend of events includes two concerts, a master class, and a special meet-and-greet with Melora at Amendment XXI. All proceeds from her meet-and-greet with benefit Merrimack Hall's Johnny Stallings Arts Program for children and teens with special needs.