NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ — For 15 years, aspiring dancers and musicians have honed their craft with help from InSpira Performing Arts and Cultural Center. And along the way, the dance and music academy has become something of a Hub City institution.

InSpira, based off Jersey Avenue, celebrated its anniversary with a season titled “Make An Impact,” according to the school. It recently came to an end with a music recital in June at the New Brunswick Theological Seminary and a recital for young performers and “The Big Show,” both held in Rahway.

The performances spanned a range of genres, from ballet, pointe, tap and Horton to contemporary modern, jazz, hip-hop, African and liturgical dance styles, according to the school. Young women of color performed ballet and pointe, while younger people and adults executed what the school described as a “breathtaking” rendition of the Horton. The event also included an African dance-themed father-daughter act.

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“Onlooking crowds of family, friends and supporters were overwhelmed with technically strong and emotionally saturated performances,” InSpira wrote. “InSpira delivered a dynamic experience for all in attendance.”

But perhaps the most striking aspect of InSpira is founder and artistic director Kristine Smith’s desire to push her students to reach their full potential—often by leaving their comfort zones, in search of their “grand purpose,” according to the school.

“If the first time you attempt something, it doesn’t work out the way you planned, analyze and try again,” Smith said.

She launched InSpira in 2002. Since then, alongside her husband Leon and the studio’s staff, Smith has aimed to mold minds young and old. Children as young as 2 years old may enroll in the academy, and many stick with the program through high school, according to InSpira.

This year, the academy also celebrated 15 graduating high school seniors—its largest class yet. They’re on the cusp of attending colleges like Rutgers University, North Carolina A&T State University, Hampton University, Dickinson College, Northwestern University and the prestigious conservatory Juilliard.

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