Calgary Herald

Theatre programs great places for kids who act out


Performing arts summer camps engage kids to a degree they wouldn’t normally experience during the school year, say organizers. “What might normally take three to six months in a school to produce, we will produce in six days,” says Linda Kundert-stoll of the six-day musical theatre camp at the Calgary Arts Summer School Associatio­n (CASSA). “I think that when you come together, and that’s your complete focus for a week, you work at a higher level than you would otherwise,” says the president and artistic director of the non-profit organizati­on. During the school year, she says children have numerous responsibi­lities and extracurri­cular activities requiring their attention. Coming together at a camp allows children to focus on one thing, resulting in an “extremely high” level of creativity. And Dan Libman agrees. “Kids are way more capable of accomplish­ing great things in a short time than we usually assume,” says the founder of the Calgary Actors’ Studio (CAS). That why his school sets the bar high — “really, really high” — for its summer programs. Youth are expected to create a 20- to 25-minute

show by the end of the studio's one-week program while kids in the two-week program create a 45 to 50-minute show. The goal is to present a piece of the theatre that parents would want to watch even if their kids weren't in it. Libman says performing arts programs increase students self confidence and abilities to work collaborat­ively, while enhancing their respect for others and ability to think creatively. Kundert-stoll youth pursuits involved the says opportunit­y in camps indepen- also to promeet “Generally, other like-minded when you’re kids. studying ment, such a private as the instru piano, you really don’t get to be groups. camp ation “Summer Studies mixed where is a in situ- also with you can get to know others who are like yourself.” show arts “smarter,” makes studying says kids the Kundert-stoll. “Basically, the brain doesn’t want to work that hard and I think when you get into a situation like a camp, it stimulates that side of the brain to work more than it might otherwise.” And kids don’t have to be the next Miley Cyrus or Mitchel Musso before registerin­g. CAS programs are open to all youth, says Libman, and not just kids who are the stars of their schools. Interest in the arts and a desire to learn are all that are required. Along with the desire to have fun. Anita Perlau is a teacher who believes in nurturing children through play. Play is the source of creativity in children’s lives — setting a foundation for future learning, says the co-ordinator and instructor of the Kodaly program at the Mount Royal University Conservato­ry. The conservato­ry offers one-week summer camps of various intensitie­s for kids aged five to 21. Perlau says one of the reasons parents send their children to conservato­ry camps is because they feel their kids are learning an important life skill. “Performing arts camps encourage us to express ourselves in a way that is different,” says Perlau. “Performing arts are very much connected to our emotions and our humanity. They feed the soul.” But creativity doesn’t just happen, says Perlau. “We have to nurture it as individual­s. We have to

nurture it as teachers.” And who knows where camp will lead you. Melissa O’neil attended CASSA’S six-day musical theatre program in the summer of 2005. That fall, she won Canadian Idol. “Not that we can say we caused it,” says Kundert-stoll with a laugh, “but it definitely helped her to get the confidence to do that.”

 ??  ?? — Thinkstock Images
Attending a performing arts
camp allows kids of all ages
to learn how to express
themselves in a fun, ener
getic setting.
— Thinkstock Images Attending a performing arts camp allows kids of all ages to learn how to express themselves in a fun, ener getic setting.

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