This week, as I gave pause to reflect on the work of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., I was reminded of his great and earnest belief in community. He so deeply maintained a globalized view in which we are all-inclusive, just, socially minded, and based in love for one another.
He stated, “Let us live together in peace and love in a Beloved Community.”
The Brunswick Center is founded in the idea of community. But what is community without those individuals who comprise it? When I think of community, yes, I think of places and space. However, what is community, truly, without the beloved faces who weave in and out of the brick and mortar, bringing forth love, compassion and inclusivity?
The faces of the Brunswick Center, a new blog series, will feature the individuals who make the center a second home to so many Jersey City residents.
There is not a day that I walk into the Brunswick Center without passing the warm and ever-happy face of Danielle Bisordi. I couldn’t wait to have an opportunity to hear her story about what brought her to the center and the significance it has had in her life.
Danielle, who lives down the street from the Brunswick Center, watched the three- story building during its renovation, having no idea the special place in her heart the building would eventually hold. Danielle, who ended up having her wedding dance choreographed by Jersey City Ballroom, was always curious about what the space would become.
“I live down the street so I saw it when it was going under renovations and looked up what it was going to be. I didn’t know about Jersey City Ballroom until the sign on the side of the building went up,” Bisordi says.
It was incredibly convenient for the couple, a deciding factor in where they would learn their first dance. Danielle and her husband officially started taking lessons at the center in July of 2017 and now she regularly attends classes and private lessons three to four times a week. I asked her why she continued to come back after their wedding was over.
“I danced for my whole life growing up until I went to college and had been considering coming back to it for a while. Taking lessons for my wedding dance, along with the community at JCB, reminded me of how much I loved it, so I kept coming back.”
It was more than just a love of dance, however, that had Danielle returning to the Brunswick Center day after day. For her, the sense of community and the friendships she has been able to establish have helped her solidify her connection with the “building down the street”.
“Jersey City Ballroom does an amazing job of fostering a sense of community amongst everyone who takes lessons/classes there. We have made some incredible friends there. I definitely feel more connected to Jersey City because of it. Living so close to the center… it’s great running into people while I’m just going about my day. I’ve also found out about some events in Hudson County I wouldn’t have been aware of otherwise due to the JCB performances (i.e. JC Cultural Arts Family Festival, Bayonne Arts and Music Festival) even though I’ve lived here for 13 years,” Bisordi says.
Even Danielle’s husband has jumped on the bandwagon. In December the couple danced in the smooth performance team together and she and Kiel performed a fun solo routine that had the whole audience laughing. I asked Danielle what effect coming to the center together had on their marriage.
“We are better dancers, have another fun activity to do together, and have made some really good friends through the JCB community.”
In addition to her many ballroom classes each week and grabbing an occasional smoothie at the Health Bar Cafe in Hudson Play, Danielle wants to try other classes offered at the center. She mentioned that she really wants to try an aerial and hoop class at Body Pole and Soul, a newer studio a few doors down from Jersey City Ballroom.
For Danielle and her husband, the Brunswick Center has played a vital role in their health, recreation, friendships, and community while being residents of Jersey City.
“The Brunswick Center is an awesome central place that provides opportunities to try new things and meet great people.”
The great Dr. King spoke frequently and emphatically of the importance of community. The Brunswick Center’s ability to create a space that meets the needs of a diverse population was no accident. When I spoke to Ben Torrei, managing partner of BGT Enterprises, he was very clear with his vision of the role the center would play in the lives of our local residents.
“My intention for the Brunswick Center was to provide the Jersey City community with a place that they can explore and experience a variety of education, health and wellness opportunities. Whether it’s Pilates, Ballroom dancing, or Ballet, there’s something for everyone here at the center. You can drop off your kid at the Brunswick School, bring your laptop, grab a smoothie at Hudson Play and relax in our 2nd Floor lounge area or sign up a 30 min spin class with Core Cycling,” says Torrei.
The people of the Brunswick Center are those who help to create the sense of community that so many of us find appealing. When I walk into the Brunswick Center on any given day, and I see those familiar smiles and nods of recognition, I recognize that I am a part of something bigger than myself. I am a part of a group of individuals who all view this center as a pivotal part of their well-being, friendships, and day to day life in Jersey City.