“Everything I Do In This Room Is Right”: Inspiring Students Through Performing Arts
By Ryan Albrechtson
Photo Credit: Ryan Albrechtson
“It’s no big secret that getting kids involved in the performing arts can have major payoffs in school,” says writer Julia Savacool in an article titled “How the Performing Arts Benefits Kids” for Scholastic. She goes on to provide examples of how participating in the performing arts helps kids become quick thinkers, master their anxiety, express new emotions, build self-esteem, and see the world in a whole new way.
These views are shared by the Marcus Center for the Performing Arts and is evident in their Arts Connect summer program.
Arts Connect, currently in its fifth year, partners with Milwaukee Public Schools to provide performing arts opportunities for approximately 100 students from Riverside University High School, Milwaukee High School of the Arts, Reagan College Preparatory High School, Bay View High School, and South Division High School.
Through the program, students participate in a week-long summer intensive centered around a touring Broadway show, with an opportunity to see a live performance of the show at the end of the week. The intensive includes audition training, panel discussions with university admissions counselors, one-on-one time with local artists, and a master class with cast members from the touring show.
This year’s intensive was centered around the Broadway tour of Anastasia, a musical based on the 1997 animated film. Students were given the opportunity to attend a vocal master class with Jeremiah Ginn, a swing who has been touring with the production since September.
“Theatre is supposed to excite us, inspire us,” says Ginn, kicking off the class with the students. “This is our chance for the next forty minutes to inspire each other.”
Jeremiah Ginn, who led the Master Class, is currently a Swing in the touring production of Anastasia.
And that’s exactly what happened. Looking across the rehearsal hall, there were students at all different levels. Some were outgoing right from the start, and some seemed fairly shy. As Ginn warmed the kids up and began working on tips and techniques, all of the students began to open up. One of the most inspiring moments of the class was after the kids had all been taught the piece of the song they were working on - “Paris Holds the Key to Your Heart.” As the students started to perform the piece with each other, everyone seemed a little bit nervous that they’d make a mistake. Ginn could feel this as well and stopped the kids for a quick pep talk. All of the kids got together in a circle and repeated after him: “Everything I do in this room is right.” They did this until it was clear that everyone in the room was starting to believe it.
The class ended in a Q&A session with Ginn where the students all got an opportunity to ask a variety of questions about techniques, his career, Anastasia, and more. In the short time spent together, Ginn was able to provide them with exactly what he said theatre was all about: excitement and inspiration.
“I think programs like arts connect are so important for our youth and teens, whether or not they are wanting to pursue a career in the arts,” says Ginn. “At their core, they’re learning more about themselves, important social skills, and how to tackle difficult or new situations. More specifically, they’re learning the skills that will be helpful for them if they pursue a career in the arts from professionals who are working in the business. Growing up in Northern California, I did not have any access to amazing programs like the one I participated in a Milwaukee. I think the youth in that area are so lucky!”
For more information on the Arts Connect program and other community outreach engagement programs, visit MarcusCenter.org.