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DAREarts Rehearsal for Winter Promenade

Performance: 7:00pm, Thursday March 7, 2013

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The kids are doing a “cue to cue”.  They’re getting the kind of education I got when I was starting off as an actor.  At Grade 4, they’re getting a sense of how the show is going to run.  They’re attentive, chatty, and that buzz of adrenaline that goes with being in a new space- THE THEATRE – has them wide-eyed and energized.  This isn’t a small theatre.  It’s a four hundred-seat auditorium that will be filled with their parents, teachers, siblings and grandparents. Their community.

We’ve done this before.  But this time it’s different. One of our DAREarts students is in mourning for her brother.  The other kids are preparing themselves to knock our socks off with their courage.

The grade fours file in from both side of the audience.  They stand in line, and introduce themselves to us.  Well, just me.  I’m the only person in the audience.  A sweet little girl walks up to me, looks me in the eye and says in a clear voice with a sweet, open smile, “Hi, I’m a leader.  Welcome to DAREarts Promenade. Hope you enjoy the show.”  I shake hands with her and burst into tears.

…I’m a big baby.

I can’t help it.  The kids dance on stage from the wings and run through an African dance, with one of them calling out the steps.

They’ll be singing in different languages.  They’ll be looking us all in the eye. They deserve our respect and love and protection.  I’m so proud to be in their presence.

Oops, I’ve just been recruited to bring my guitar to back up the kids singing “Together as One.”  And, hey.  I’m an artist.  If I’m asked to step up, that’s what I’ll do, ‘cause I’m a leader too.

Next: Grades 5 and 6 run through their dances and songs. The kids call for the music cues. “Cue the music, please.”  They’re taking control.  We follow them.  We listen to them. We watch all these kids, who, today, in some cases are meeting each other for the first time.  They’re looking each other in the eye. They’re reaching out to each other. Creating something together.

A few changes to the scripts, polishing, lessons about volume, respect for the process and each other, and they’re off to the races.  Tomorrow we’ll rehearse with all the tech.  Another challenge for them.  Then, the performance.   Tomorrow night, the artwork they’ve made will be displayed gallery style and they will take it all home with them.

This is more than a recital. This is a meaningful expression and culmination of six weeks of hard work, growth, leadership, and ultimately, joy.

Tonight is a continuing celebration of the richness of culture we have in this city. In this country. Tonight, they are going to do much more than perform in  a mere recital. They are going to transform their community’s future and their lives into something wonderful.

They are DAREing us to follow them.  How could we not?

-Cathy Elliott, Dir of Communications

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