in the news

June 2019

The Prom Where the City Councilman Dances the Jennifer Grey Part from ‘Dirty Dancing.’ And He’s Not Bad.

The New York Times

At a prom earlier this month, Carlos Menchaca, a city councilman from Brooklyn, wore a shiny ball gown to dance the Jennifer Grey role from the climax of “Dirty Dancing.” The prom was an annual fund-raising event for a community school called Cora Dance in Red Hook, Brooklyn, and Shannon Hummel, who runs the school and a dance company of the same name, took the Patrick Swayze role. The dance was Mr. Menchaca’s idea.

Adult dance classes return to Cora

red hook star review

Cora Dance brought a sampling of adult classes to locals at the group's new studio at Red Hook Ministries on Van Dyke Street last month. On Saturday, March 5th, adults ranging from age 12 to at least 60, from first-time dancers to professional performers, dabbled in a palette of movement styles that included yoga, hip hop, ballet, reggae/dance hall, and more. 


April 2016


Cora Dance Launches Kickstarter Campaign to Renovate New Studio

dna info

After giving up its studio of six years, a Red Hook dance school has a new home and is hoping to raise funds to renovate it.

Cora Dance is looking to raise $7,500 through a Kickstarter campaign to install new flooring at its Van Dyke Street studio so the space can be used for classes this fall. 

July 2, 2015


Touchdowns and Tour Jetés

dance teacher magazine

On a January morning, two weeks before New Jersey hosted Super Bowl XLVIII, ballet teacher Courtney Cooke set up a combination in the form of a three-person pass play. Tomboyish with a headband around her blonde pixie cut, she positioned one pre-teen boy as quarterback in second position plié. He wore a winter beanie, gym clothes and athletic socks, and held his beginner ballet posture as best he could. “Remember, we’re using our turnout in this class,” Cooke said. Another boy in ballet slippers squatted in front of the QB clutching a foam football, while a third waited as receiver on the other side of the studio. It was the final combination of a FOOTBALLet class, part of a six-week dance program for boys ages 9–13 at Cora School for Dance in Red Hook, Brooklyn. Though she had never thrown a football before, Cooke designed the workshop in hopes of introducing a new group of athletes to ballet.

September 1, 2014


Red Hook Transfer School's Cheerleading Team Is Only for the 'Tough'

dna info

Only the strong survive.

That’s how some of South Brooklyn Community High School’s cheerleaders describe their first official squad that started last fall.

The team started in 2012 at the transfer school — which serves students ages 16 and 20 years old who have dropped out of their previous high schools or were kicked out because of excessive truancy. After staff decided to create a first-ever cheerleading team to complement the new boys' basketball team, more than a dozen girls signed up.

January 27, 2014


Charities That Inspire Kids: Cora Dance

new york times

My 13-year-old daughter, Nora, interned for a month over the summer to help give back to an organization that has not only inspired her to become a dancer, choreographer and teacher but has also opened a whole new world to her. After a long seven months of being on the receiving end of volunteers’ generosity to help rebuild our home after Sandy, she decided it was time to give back.

Cora Dance has been a safe place for both my children to release the stress of being a middle-schooler, homeless for six months, slogging through the process of selecting high schools and myriad other challenges that come up in life. It has been a place of community building and support, both emotionally and physically. Cora Dance has been the steady when even home was not.

December 31, 2013


Football-Inspired Ballet Classes Combine Dance with Drills in Red Hook

dna info

From cleats to pointe shoes.

A neighborhood dance studio is bringing young football players into their studio for a six-week ballet workshop that’s designed for athletes.

“FOOTBALLet” at Cora Dance, located at 201 Richards St., focuses on footwork, balance and strength-building exercises by using movements from ballet and the field.

December 4, 2013


Their Dance Card Filled up in Red Hook

ny daily news - ben chapman

In her pink leotard and bare feet, 6-year-old Lailah Bellahcyne can spin like a top and slither like a snake. The Red Hook girl’s graceful dancing is all the more impressive because she has a nerve disorder that interferes with her muscle control. “I feel free when I dance,” said Lailah. “I feel happy.” It’s hard work, but the youngster finishes each lesson at Cora Dance studio in Red Hook with a big smile.

She’s not the only one.

Since opening 18 months ago, the tiny non-profit dance school on Richards Street has exploded in popularity. Cora Dance studio now enrolls about 60 typical and special-needs children on its pay-what-you-can pricing system.

Most students live in the neighborhood and pay only a fractions of the school’s tuition of about $300 for 18 one hour classes.

“Our family could never afford it if we had to pay full price,” said Lailah’s mom, Lydia Bellahcyne, who struggles to support five kids on her husband’s income as a taxi driver. The lessons Lailah takes three times each week are even improving her ability to walk and climb stairs, her mother said.

Cora Dance studio founder Shannon Hummel set up the school for neighborhood kids like Lailah who couldn’t otherwise pay for dance lessons. “Every child should have access to dance, no matter how much money their family has,” said Hummel, 39, who lives in Red Hook and has been a dance teacher and choreographer for two decades.

Now her growing dance school is becoming cramped in its tiny studio in a red brick warehouse. The cramped room can only fit 10 dancers at a time, which means wait lists for the most popular classes.

So Hummel has a plan to expand.

She’s got her on a nearby studio that’s twice the size of her current digs, but the rent is more than twice as high. To grow into the bigger space by the end of the year, Hummel needs to raise about $100,000 – a difficult feat for an operation that’s funded by donations and staffed mainly by volunteers.

“But we’re determined to do it,” said Hummel. “We’ll find a way.”

Cora studio is hosting fund-raising classes this weekend and a gala in May. To learn more, visit or call (718) 858-2520.

February 1, 2011


November 5, 2010