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Recap: Youth Arts Symposium

Saturday, December 1st was Creative Action’s Youth Arts Symposium, hosted by Lamar Middle School. We invited middle school and high school students from Austin and surrounding areas to attend and participate in different creative arts workshops lead by teaching artists in Theatre, Dance, and Visual Art. I had the pleasure of leading the “Dance Jam” workshop, an open-level Hip Hop class.

In the morning, some students interacted with confidence and excitement, others with a more quiet gentle approach, but mostly everyone had a tentative curiosity as to what this event would be like. Once we split to our first workshops the veil of typical insecurities had dissolved. Students were making quick and clever choices in Improv, inventing new stencils that would eventually create a beautiful tapestry, and sweating and grooving in the hip hop dance workshop.

After lunch the groups split up to devise a 3-4 minute piece with each other using the prompt, “The Day Everything Changed”. Although group brainstorming was tough and required a lot of patience and communication, each group got to a place of clarity and vision. Each short skit was unique and a perfect example of the ingenuity of young artists.

We all experienced the newness of:

  • Working with people you have just met
  • Learning new skills
  • Hard work
  • Finding that place of inspiration to do something different.

By the end of the day there was a sense of appreciation, acceptance, and comfort among all of the young artists.

After the event I sat on the sidewalk outside and shared some leftover veggies from lunch with two students who were waiting for their parents. We talked about how they both went to Lamar M.S. but had never seen each other before that day, how hungry everyone was at lunch, and how good carrots are. Then after a calm silence one of them admitted honestly to me “Hey, today was pretty cool,” then the other student said, “Yeah, I liked that dance that you showed us.”

Now, days later I keep thinking about how wonderful it was to have worked with outstanding teaching artists, awesome volunteers, and a partner like Lamar MS to help us provide a unique arts experience for this community of artists. I already can’t wait for next year’s event!

This blog was written by Creative Action’s Artistic Associate, Stephanie Chavez Noell.

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