where children and teens explore, discover, and experience the magic of the performing arts. Located in Catholic Charities' Lt. Joseph P. Kennedy Community Center, known to generations of Harlem families, PPA classes are taught in a non-traditional setting, and in non-traditional spaces.

At Project Performing Arts, Dance, and Theater Arts classes along with West African, and Bucket Drumming are available to children and youth in a robust schedule of Saturday classes. In addition, IMANI Dance, a Pre-professional dance program provides a 2 and a 1/2-hour workshop class on Friday with accompanying Saturday technique/style classes.

PPA provides a year long school program that consist of one, 17 - week semester and a 17 -  week semester.. The fall/winter and winter/spring sessions offer classes where children/teens are exposed to and enriched by participation in performing arts classes. The PPA program of dance, theater arts and drumming classes are age appropriate and offers  a skill developmental curriculum and instruction . 

The fall/winter session culminates with a Parent/Family Open House at the end of January while the winter/spring session of the PPA year culminates in June with OnSTAGE! The Recital. 



Founder & Artistic Director

Nina Klyvert-Lawson, a dance educator, and performing arts manager is the founder and artistic director of Project Performing Arts, located at the Lt. Joseph P. Kennedy Center in Harlem. An Emerson College graduate, she holds a BA in Theater Education, specializing in Dance, and a MA in Dance Education from Teachers College, Columbia University. 

As a Performing Arts Administrator at Boys and Girls Harbor Conservatory for the Performing Arts under the direction of Ramon Rodriguez, she served as dance instructor, Dance Program Director and Artistic Director of the Conservatory. She was responsible for creating, developing and implementing various programs for after-school, Saturday Enrichment, Boys and Girls Harbor camp, and GESTURES Dance Ensemble. Nina was also responsible for the design and implementation of the performing arts “Contracted Services” for Public and Charter School institutions. In addition, her creative efforts were instrumental in the performance elements of the Conservatory’s annual fundraiser “Winter Heat” in collaboration with Career Transition for Dancers, and in Boys and Girls Harbor’s annual “Salute to Achievement”. 

Nina's dance education began with creative dance and theater classes at a Bronx community center. Her pre-professional training started at Juilliard School’s Saturday Preparatory Program, and  continued as a scholarship recipient at The Ailey School. Additional dance training included Clark Center, Joy of Movement (Cambridge), Boston Ballet, and Broadway Dance Center. Nina has been a dancer with Alvin Ailey’s Third Company (Director Kelvin Rotardier), Ailey II (Director Sylvia Waters), Alpha Omega Theatrical Dance Company (Director), Impulse Dance Company (Director Adrienne Hawkins), and Rael Lamb’s Dance for the New World. Her film and Off-Broadway credits include Secrets of Sahara, The Eddie Files “Welcome to Math: You Gotta Start Somewhere”, and with Ty Stephens’ Shades of Harlem and Jazz Alley. As a master teacher/instructor, she has taught in Italy, at Yale University, Teaneck High School, Rye Arts Center, Mind Builders and as an adjunct instructor at Bergen Community College.

A former NYSCA panelist, Nina also served on the Archdiocese of New York's Entertainment Committee for the 2008 Papal Visit. She is currently a member of the CMOM (Children's Museum of Manhattan) Dance Advisory Board and a member of Fractured Atlas. Nina has been the Director/Choreographer of the Liturgical Dance Ministry of St. Charles Borromeo, Chapel of Resurrection and All Saints Church since 1993. 

As the founder of Project Performing Arts, Nina trusts that PPA will expand every child’s and teen's horizons, that the classes will feed their curiosity and passions, and will afford each to discover a different part of themselves and be empowered through the arts.



Emilio Cabrera

Assistant to the Director

Theater Elements  

Ballet Fundamentals

Blanca Alonso




Lisa Alberty


Musical Theater Workshop

Aatifa Drayton


West African Community Dance

Drums and Songs

Tony Harris


West African Instructor


Sean Clements


Djembe and DjunDjun

Bucket Drumming

Drums and Songs

Qwadasia Lovett


First Position

Beginner West African

Brittany Miller


Musical Theater Workshop

Beginner Hip Hop

Teen Hip Hop

Damazi Williams


Musical Theater Workshop

Beginner Tap


PPA Instructor Bios

Emilio Cabrera

Emilio Cabrera, born in the Dominican Republic, was raised in New York City.  His dance training began at Boys and Girls Harbor Conservatory in Spanish Harlem, and continued at Ballet Hispanico School of Dance, and the Perry Mansfield Performing Arts Camp. Emilio continued his Ballet training at La Roche College in Pittsburgh, PA as a dance major, and was the dance coach at the YMCA National Gymnastics Training Camp for over six years. Throughout his dance career, Emilio has had the opportunity to work with such choreographers as Darrell Grand Moultrie, Camille A Brown, and Ronald K Brown, among others. He has danced as a member of the Rangeela Dance Troupe, and is also an accomplished choreographer and experienced dance instructor. Currently, Emilio is Assistant Director of Project Performing Arts, and instructs ballet, acting classes, and choreographs for IMANI Dance.