Our nonprofit organization
In September of 2014, a small group of board members established Friends of the Rhody Center, Inc., to provide student scholarships and to fund artist stipends. Friends of the Rhody Center is a 501(c)3 tax exempt organization. Our board currently consists of Elizabeth Maynard, Naida Weisberg, Joyce Smith, Jen Raimondi, Jeffrey Hill, Cara Neiderberger, and Julie Raimondi.
Friends of the Rhody Center now runs our popular community ensembles, which are free for kids to join. These projects are made possible thanks to generous donations, adult ensemble dues (paid on a sliding scale), a grant from the Champlin Foundation, and a series of grants from Rhode Island State Council on the Arts.
Donate to our nonprofit organization here, to help support efforts like free steel pan and West African drumming education for youth, as well as need-based scholarships! Our nonprofit arm, Friends of the Rhody Center, Inc. is a 501(c)3 organization.
Why music? Why dance?
Check out this fun little collection of recent articles that we like. Some of them speak to the importance of music and dance in our lives, and some resonate with our teaching philosophy.
Cole, Diane. 2014. "Your Aging Brain Will Be in Better Shape If You've Taken Music Lessons" National Geographic Daily News.
Eisinger, Dale. 2014. "Drums Aren't Just for Music: They're Therapy, Too." The Daily Beast.
Hicks, George. 2014. "How Playing Music Affects The Developing Brain" WBUR.
Murray, Mary and Joy Jernigan. October 27, 2013. "Dance away the pain: Parkinson's patients improve mobility through exercise." NBC News.
Popova, Maria. "How Playing Music Benefits your Brain More than Any other Activity." TED-Ed animation, written by Anita Collins and animated by Sharon Colman Graham, hosted on brain pickings.
Rosen, Michael. 2014. "How we Teach the Arts is as Important as the Fact [that] we're Doing It." The Guardian.
The Rhody Center for World Music and Dance offers group classes and private lessons in music and dance, for adults and children, in a wide variety of traditions. We also host special events and workshops. We opened on May 11, 2013 in the Pawtucket Armory. In December 2017 we moved to our location in Coventry, and in January 2018 completed our transition to a nonprofit organization.
The mission of the Rhody Center for World Music and Dance is to provide affordable group classes and private instruction in music and dance, with particular emphasis on the hard-to-find and/or on art forms that reflect the diverse heritage of Rhode Islanders. We tailor classes for adults, teens, and children, and we hold regular community event nights and occasional workshops. Our aim is to create a multi-cultural community space that encourages learning, self-expression, and creativity.
The Rhody Center is made up of one director and a bunch of teachers of music and dance, and we are all active in the teaching and performing communities. We believe that music and dance are natural forms of expression for all. We aim to break down any barriers that would keep you and your family from trying something new. We don't force you to sign any year-long contracts. We offer high-quality, original material that puts YOU first. We operate in a non-competitive environment, in order to keep the focus on the fun parts of music and dance. We hope that you enjoy your experience with us, and we hope that you will tell your friends about us, too!
The Rhody Center is a safe space. We welcome people of all walks of life, regardless of gender identification, race, ethnicity, origin, religion, sexuality, or ableness.
After school programming
The Rhody Center offers after school programming, working in partnership with select area schools. Schools with transportation may bring their students to the Rhody Center. Or, we also send teachers into the schools to teach. We have also started working with an area homeschooling organization! The programming we offer typically mirrors what we offer to the public. Please contact Julie for more information.
Practice space rental
Existing dance troupes, solo dancers, and ensembles may rent time in the Rhody Center for their rehearsals. Affordable rates include use of the sound system, air conditioning, and mirrors. Please contact Julie for more information.
We cherish our teachers! We are lucky to have such a wealth of diverse cultural traditions in Rhode Island and Massachusetts. At the Rhody Center, we are pleased to offer instruction by outstanding teachers who are highly skilled at teaching a wide range of art forms.
Read teacher bios here.
Julie M. Raimondi, founder and executive director of the Rhody Center for World Music and Dance, holds a Ph.D. in ethnomusicology and a B.S. in Business Administration. For some time, her dream has been to open a school for world music and dance.
Friends of the Rhody Center is run by our accomplished board of directors. Below are their bios.
Our President, Dr. Elizabeth Maynard, has a Ph.D. in art history and lots of experience working in museum settings and arts institutions, where she counts grant writing and reporting among her many skills.
Vice-president Jen Raimondi has a master's degree in sculpture from RISD, is very knowledgeable about the arts scene in Rhode Island, and, as owner of Westside Wellness, is well-connected to the Providence small business community.
Naida Weisberg, a graduate of Smith College, has a Master's degree in the Arts in Education for Social Change, and is an RDT (registered drama therapist). She co-founded !Improvise! Inc. in 1972, a group of creative drama specialists who had performed with Looking Glass Theatre. They worked and played with able and disabled children in the RI public schools for over 30 years. Naida taught "Improvisational Techniques for the Classroom" at Rhode Island College, and at URI in the Nursing Dept, she offered a course called "Exploring Loss through the Creative Arts." She is the co-editor of two books: "Creative Arts with Older Adults" and "Expressive Arts with Elders". Naida directed an intergenerational, multi-arts project at Central Falls High School called "What Does it Mean to be Hispanic in Rhode Island: Voices from Central Falls."
Joyce Smith was born in South Dakota. She earned her BFA and MFA from the University of Kansas, and a Post MFA from Landes Kunst Schule, Hamburg Germany. Locally, she has worked for Rhode Island School of Design and the Haffenreffer Museum of Anthropology at Brown University. Joyce published Taaniko: Maori Handweaving in 1975. In 1980 she was awarded a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts Grant to make and produce video, Paj Ntaub: Textile Techniques of The Hmong. Currently, Joyce is producing a line of bead crochet jewelry and learning to play the ukulele.
Julie M. Raimondi is serving as Secretary. Her background is in ethnomusicology, for which she has a Ph.D., and she has experience working in the nonprofit world for a community radio station in New Orleans, where grant-writing was among her many responsibilities.