Project UP is a performing company for teens and young adults with special needs. Launched in June 2010 with a summer camp for 9 teens, the program now meets weekly with 43 students in either the Junior (ages 12-14) , Teen (ages 15-16) or Senior (ages 17 and up) companies. Project UP follows the academic calendar and company members have numerous public performance opportunities throughout the year. Each week, these students are taught music, dance and theatre by their instructors. They are assisted by college and high school students who commit to a year of volunteer service. Students have performed at festivals, community events, corporate events, and with local high school choir and dance departments.
Project UP has a modest monthly tuition. Scholarships are available to anyone who requires financial assistance. Approximately 40% of students in Project UP receive annual scholarships.
In 2011, Project UP was invited to perform at the Toyota Motor Manufacturing Alabama tenth anniversary celebration. The students performed for more than 600 Toyota employees and dignitaries including Governor Robert Bentley and executives from Japan.
In January 2013, Project UP members performed in a showcase at the NRG Dance Project in Atlanta and were featured in a live news segment on “Making It In America” with Vinnie Politan on CNN’s Headline News.
For three consecutive years, Project UP has won the Alabama State Dance championships in Bessemer, Alabama, competing on an even playing field with their typical peers. They also won high honors at dance competitions in Atlanta and Nashville in 2014.
Five dancers from Project Up along with five of their typical peers from local dance studio Element Huntsville, were featured performers at the National Dance Day Gala in Los Angeles in July 2013. Their performance of the dance piece “Change the World” received a six-minute standing ovation from the sold-out audience of 3,100. They were joined onstage during the ovation by Dizzy Feet Foundation founders Nigel Lythgoe and Adam Shankman.