Located in Montclair, New Jersey, Sharon Miller’s Academy for the Performing Arts (SMAPA) is an inclusive, 501c3 arts education organization for dancers and performers of all ages. The director, Sharon Miller, is dedicated to giving children, teens, adults, and seniors the opportunities to build their performance skills through developmental training. SMAPA’s comprehensive teaching techniques are designed to help students at any skill level to grow and reach their highest potential. As they explain on their website, “Our holistic philosophy inspires students to believe they can achieve, nurturing the potential within each student by encouraging creativity, building skills, fostering self-discipline and bolstering self-esteem.”
Sharon Miller founded the academy after training at The Julliard School under the founder and director of the Garden State Ballet, Fred Danieli. She is a former Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater soloist and has performed in seven Broadway shows. She’s also a current member of the Screen Actors Guild-American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SAG-AFTRA), and the Actors’ Equity Association (AEA). Her eventful career includes appearances on television, radio and film.
For thirteen years, SMAPA collaborated with The Renaissance Middle School. Since that time, Sharon has concentrated on community outreach in the Montclair area. SMAPA works in partnership the Quitman Street Community School in Newark to provide a place for K-5 students to express their creative interests through dance. SMAPA also works with elementary schools in East Orange to provide dance residency as well as creating the Prime Time Summer Arts for children summer program in association with the Montclair Department of Recreation and Cultural Affairs.
SMAPA offers a variety of classes and programs for kids ages two and up in several types of dance including modern, hip hop, ballet, theater dance, tap, point, and modern jazz. This wide range allows children to try several different styles of dance which are all unique in their ways. From the very beginning, the preschool division encourages kids to become aware of their body placement in space and teaches them that their bodies can ultimately be used for self-expression. Kids who don’t grow up with any dance training tend to think that they cannot do so as their lack of coordination would be embarrassing. But knowing that anyone can and should dance as a means of expressing themselves is valuable for those who fear the spotlight.
The faculty and board members of SMAPA are acutely aware of the financial difficulties that some families face and that expenses such as a performing arts academy aren’t always feasible. As a result, scholarships are available for a limited number of students who can explain/prove how they are unable to pay the fees. Since SMAPA is a not-for-profit 501(c)(3) tax-exempt organization, they rely on the assistance of donors and foundations to fund their scholarship programs. Moreover, these charitable donations allow students that were previously unable to attend to grow and prosper in a nurturing and inclusive environment.
As their website states, SMAPA’s ongoing mission is “to provide comprehensive, inclusive developmental training in dance and related theater arts for children, teens, and adults.” Especially in a child’s formative years, establishing a healthy relationship between their minds and bodies is extremely important for their mental health and confidence later in life. By teaching them methods of expression, they ultimately process and cope with emotions better than a child without a known means of expression. SMAPA’s philosophy, paired with the staff’s encouraging nature, provides unforgettable experiences that allow students to believe that they can achieve anything they put their mind to; and to many parents, lessons such as those are priceless.
SMAPA Board of Directors and Advisory Council 2017-2018
Board of Directors
Sharron Miller, Chairman
Founder and Artistic Director, Sharron Miller’s
Academy for the Performing Arts, Inc.
Darcy Lowe, Interim President
Business Relationship Manager,
Santander Bank, N.A.
Martin Krumholz, Treasurer
CPA, Sultanik & Krumholz, LLC
Terrence Rose, Secretary
Executive Assistant, Mount Calvary Baptist Church
Social Media Marketing Manager,
AETC National Coordinating Resource Center
VP- Strategic Workforce Planning, ADP
Attorney/Owner, Hyderally & Associates, P.C.
President (Executive Coach and People Strategy
Consultant), The Lemon Group
Director of Gift Planning,
National Resources Defense Council
Associate Artistic Director, Faculty Member, and
Chair of Preschool and Junior Divisions, Sharron
Miller’s Academy for the Performing Arts, Inc.;
Dance/Drama Specialist, Montclair Kimberley
School Health Specialist
Statewide Parent Advocacy Network
Barbara Brooks Andrews
Bridgit Burton Brown
Human Resources and PR Consultant, Springboard
Consulting Partners LLC
Maria Di Dia
Owner, Maria Productions, LLC
Founder and Managing Member,
Heavens Law Group, LLC
Executive Director – Temporal Affairs, Diocese
Counselor, Rosa L. Parks School of Fine &
Performing Arts and Garrett Morgan Academy
Marta Lucia Vargas
Poet and Arts Educator