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A Brief History of The Berkshire Project
& The Hip Hop Remix Program

The Berkshire Project began in 1999 with a series of dance performances in Berkshire County, Massachusetts, bringing together some of the regions top dance talent. Soon afterward, The Berkshire Project developed a dance-based curriculum for area middle schools involving workshops in African Dance and Drumming and tied into Social Studies Classes. Over 450 middle school teens at seven middle schools participated in various Berkshire Project dance education programs from 1999 - 2001.

The Berkshire Projectís Hip Hop Remix Program (HHRP) originates from a love for dance and a propensity for behavioral science. Following five years of work as a community based outreach therapist, Marc Aronoff, the current executive director, began to integrate his past dance experience into an approach toward helping teens at risk. Marc initially met with a probation officer at the Berkshire Juvenile Court who was excited about the prospects of developing an arts based initiative. Planning then took place in liaison with the Berkshire court system, in particular Judge Pirachi and Chief Probation officer Bill Gale. In May, 2003, The Berkshire Project developed and piloted the first Dance-based behavioral intervention, designed specifically for teen girls in the Massachusetts Juvenile Justice System. Known as the Hip Hop Remix Program, the program ran for eight weeks, with the majority of graduates asking to continue. At present, the Hip Hop Remix Progrma is The Berkshire Projectís primary focus. Initially, a collaboration with the Berkshire County Juvenile Court, the program has grown to include other counties in NY and MA and is designed to work with referrals from the Juvenile Justice System.

The Hip Hop Remix Program strives for trust building through group therapy, writing, and dance. Various artists, including award winning Hip Hop teacher Wyatt Jackson, have provided guidance and feedback on teaching strategy. The work of Dr. Jon Kabat-Zinn, founding director of The Center for Mindfulness in Health Care and Society at U. Mass Medical Center also plays a pivotal influence in the development of the program. Mr. Aronoff, who trained with Dr. Kabat-Zinn, has incorporated the work of mindfulness and stress reduction into his clinical practice for over 10 years.

The Berkshire Project Board of Directors represents a diverse group. Our board includes not only professionals in the field of dance and psychology, but also HHRP graduates who act as advisors to the Board. Several teens have accepted this challenge, offering their advice and guidance. In this regard, teens are encouraged to make recommendations on issues of conduct and the rules governing how to handle behavioral problems that may arise.
The Berkshire Project | 33 Saint Anns Ave |Lenox, MA 01240 | 413-358-5755
Marc Aronoff | Executive Director

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