Creative approach to staying home at JCAL 1

Pop-up classes to tone the mind and body are being offered for those waiting out the end of the state pause at home.

If you could count on anyone to be creative in helping people stay physically and mentally active during the COVID-mandated shutdown, it would be the arts community.

And the Jamaica Center for Arts and Learning has responded with free rotating daily pop-up classes in dance, art, music, fitness that can be accessed on the group’s YouTube channel at, including three programs on Saturdays.

All times listed are through the end of May. While geared toward school-aged children, the programs were devised with all age groups in mind.

“JCAL is so proud to be able to continue to serve our community in a difficult time like this in our capacity,” Executive Director Cathy Hung said in an email to the Chronicle. “Since the lockdown, JCAL swiftly moved our culture offerings online to provide our students some normalcy and to support our parents at home. We deeply believe that culture is part of our daily life and access to the arts and culture is a right not a privilege.”

Mondays at 4 p.m. feature African dance instruction with CecileNicole Brathwaite, who has been teaching various forms of dance for 20 years, including at the Alvin Ailey School Junior Division while a student.

JCAL’s own Janora Blackman teaches hip-hop dance Tuesdays beginning at 4 p.m. The students learn different moves each session and get to show some of their own at the end of each class, getting training and a workout at the same time.

Wednesdays feature painter, sculptor and teacher Anthony Carter at 4 p.m. helping students explore how to paint or create sculptures out of everyday materials.

Programs focusing on science, technology, engineering and math from the Mentor Project are held every Thursday at 4 p.m. and Saturday at 11 a.m.

Fridays offer drama instruction with Gareth Tidball, an actress, acting teacher and dialect coach, at 4 p.m.

Saturdays feature yoga with Kecia Chin at 10 a.m., followed by music with Karin Parker at 1 p.m., with instruction in reading music, history and music appreciation. Chris Ignacio follows up with a class in songwriting at 4 p.m.

Upcoming events include singer Thana Alexa performing on Thursday Night Jazz at 8 p.m. on June 11.

The program Friday Nights @JAC, sponsored by Councilman Daneek Miller (D-St. Albans), is dedicated to emerging artists seeking new audiences.

The center’s website also offers JCAL American Stories, an online creative gallery with artists not only from Queens but around the country.

Further information on upcoming programs and events is available at

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