By Lena Mier, Administrative Assistant

Every spring for the past six years, Performing Arts Workshop has put together its annual student showcase, a community-centric, family-friendly evening of youth performances by students from our partner schools around the Bay Area. Working with our teaching artists, preschool, middle school, and high school students create original works in hip-hop dance, spoken word poetry, Capoeira, and more to perform on stage.

IT TAKES A VILLAGE

The Showcase relies on people to donate their time and energy in order to create an event that shines a spotlight on the young artists in our community. It relies on people who believe in investing in our community.

The Workshop organizes a potluck reception to make sure our students, family, and staff are well fed and fueled for the show. In the weeks leading up to the Showcase, I reached out to local businesses and restaurants in the hopes of finding partners (and delicious food!). Luckily, our community had our back. Emails from local businesses who valued “programs supporting youth and their education” began to come in, offering catered food and freshly baked goods. Enormous bags of pastries, platters of quesadillas with five different kinds of salsas, and trays of assorted homemade cookies arrived from our vendors, while parents wheeled in strollers carrying juice boxes and tupperware filled with family recipes.

As a kid, I grew up learning that one of the best ways to create community was through sharing a meal, and as I surveyed hundreds of parents, friends, little siblings, and energetic performers sitting picnic-style in the lobby with plates full of food, it was definitely proving true. Our student showcase is meant to bring us together, and it was a rewarding experience to see its creation take shape: by the community, for the community.

SHINING OUR SPOTLIGHT

In an industry beginning to explore representation in media, there is something special about giving our young artists a platform. In producing the showcase each year, we want students to feel that their work is important, that they are seen, and that their voices have merit.

The Galileo Poetry Club is made up of students from Galileo Academy of Science and Technology who meet during their lunch break to write poetry. Teaching artist Heather Gibbons worked with members of the club, including Jojan Padua and Fatima De Paz, to put together an anthology of their work and get them performance ready.

Listening to poems like “Immigrant Superheroes” and “Duwende,” an infamous, mythical creature from the Philippines, I remembered what it felt like to navigate my own identity when I was in high school, in college, and even now. As a Filipinx-American myself, it was an honor to hear them onstage and feel their passion through their work. It’s touching to witness these students share their own experiences on stage. It reminds us that we aren’t alone in our struggles, our highs, and our lows.

BUILDING TOWARD 2019

In Workshop residencies, we ask students to think critically and express themselves creatively, allowing them to analyze the lenses through which they view the world, find self-worth, and build empathy for others. When our students go to dance class, they learn to treat it as a place where we build community, a place where we push each other to do our best, a place where their voices are heard.

One of my personal goals is to create opportunities to empower young artists, to tell them that their voice matters, to show them that they deserve to be on stage. The student showcase is a celebration of Bay Area culture and the brilliant, developing young minds growing up in it. I can’t wait to see what they’ll show us next year.