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Building the Next Generation of Artists at YoungArts

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Written by: Cameron Basden
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Following an intense National YoungArts Week, the signature program held annually in Miami, YoungArts is proud to announce their 2017 regional programs that will expand the offerings from New York City to the West Coast.Regional programs in three cities are now offered to YoungArts winners from all levels to promote life changing experiences through interdisciplinary workshops, seminars and master classes with renowned leaders in their fields.

Saturday, Feb. 25 is the culmination of Miami’s regional program. Students from theater, voice, dance and classical music will be performing at the Miami Theater Center in a collaborative evening put together in a whirlwind week by three-time Tony Award-winning actor, singer and dancer, Hinton Battle, with musical direction by Grammy nominee, Wally Minko.

Speaking from Japan, where he was opening up the Hinton Battle Dance Academy, Battle spoke about working with YoungArts students and the significance of his role.

How does one put an entire show together in one week?

Laughingly Battle said, “You better have a pre-conceived idea. I’ve got a day and a half to put it all together. The theme is ‘The Art of Making My Art.’ I wanted to dive into the personalities, the wants and the hopes and dreams of these young artists to see what they had to say about the world and what their contribution of the arts does for them in the world.”

It is always a new experience working with students. The YoungArts students, especially, are driven and passionate about their art. For Battle, this presents an exciting opportunity.

“I love working with fresh talent. You never know what you’re going to get. It’s always exciting for me to create something that the kids can thrive and look great in.”

Artistry in performances is something that is very difficult to “teach.” It is something in your soul. In looking at the YoungArts student videos, Battle says that these students have that artistry.This performance will give them the opportunity to show their technique as well as artistry.

Collaborating with leaders in their field is a hallmark trait of YoungArts. Battle will be passing on knowledge and experience that will help guide these students on their journey.

As a young man studying at Balanchine’s prestigious School of American Ballet in New York, Battle only thought of being a ballet dancer.

“I had blinders on. That is all I knew. I literally bumped into Broadway. I went on to theater where you had to do everything.” He is well aware of how maturity and life may alter the direction one goes. “I hope I can open the kids up to new worlds. I have dancers speaking and acting, everyone is doing a bit of everything. I hope they have a wonderful learning experience.”

The week in Miami will mostly be about rehearsals and preparing for the performance. But there has been a lot of prep work to make the week seamless and smooth. Battle has already been working with Wally Minko on the music. Having worked with Minko before, he was the first person that Battle chose to work with on this production.

Minko is no stranger to YoungArts and the caliber of students he will be working with. He worked on the Presidential Scholarship performance at the Kennedy Center for the past two years. He’s looking forward to working with the students in a studio setting during his time in Miami.

In this world of technology, Minko has been interfacing with each of the students, finding out what pieces they would like to perform and writing the musical arrangements from his home of Los Angeles.

Bringing his life experience to the table, Minko says, “I hope the students really get a feel for what it’s like to work in a professional situation. Professionals in the arts, especially the entertainment arts, have a very short time to make something happen. I think the students will find that it is a really intense experience and it’s so good for them to obtain.”

In seeing the performance, Battle hopes the audience has a better understanding of the kids and what they’re going through, and perhaps a better appreciation of their art and talent.

He concluded, “I had the students all write some essays and there’s some real powerful stuff. I think the audience will be pleasantly surprised.”

YoungArts Theater, Dance, Voice and Classical Music Performance: Saturday, February 25, 8:00 p.m., Miami Theater Center, 9806 NE 2nd Ave., Miami Shores; youngarts.org , facebook.com/YoungArtsFoundation or twitter.com/YoungArts

 


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