© Herald photo by Jodi Schellenberg
The Broadway North Summer Intensive Camp taught students many performing arts skills, like dancing.
They learned not only to sing, dance and act, but also to be comfortable in their own skin.
The Broadway North Summer Intensive Camp, which started on Monday, wrapped up on Friday with a final performance for friends and family members at the E.A. Rawlinson Centre that evening.
It was a full week, with more than 75 people registered for the dancing, acting and singing camp, Gillian McCaffery, one of the four instructors at the camp, said.
“We have covered a lot of material,” McCaffery said.
The students started at 9 a.m. everyday, with a warm-up on the stage. After the warm-up, they then broke into smaller groups for the morning sessions, taught by McCaffery, Karen Langlois and Roxanne Dicke.
After lunch, the six to eight-year-olds would head home, whereas the other students would have more classes in the three disciplines, as well as a master class with McCaffery’s husband, Darren.
“Only maybe at quarter to five I get maybe a couple kids asking, ‘What time is it?’” McCaffery said. “Those are the nine-year-olds, who are full of information and say, ‘I’m done. I can’t absorb anymore information.’”
Before the camp, McCaffery and Langlois chose a number of musical theatre selections for the students to learn during the week.
“We find it is really important not to use just pop music -- that is not musical theatre,” McCaffery said. “Musical theatre is cool now. There is Smash, Glee, Rock of Ages -- it is getting to be more relevant.”
They are using some music from this year’s Tony awards, they said.
“We are doing choreography that is very current,” McCaffery said.
“There is new material, from Matilda, and then more classic musical theatre, from A Chorus Line, so they get a big range, instead of just what is out there now,” Langlois said.
When it comes to choosing classes, the instructors make sure there is a wide range of material for the students. McCaffery explained that way if one student does not feel confident acting, they may excel in singing or dancing.
“Everyone is stronger in different areas,” McCaffery said. “Maybe you are a strong dancer, there is something for you. Maybe you are a strong actor or improv artist -- well then there are classes for you as well. It seems pretty equal that everyone has a chance to shine. We think we have struck a really good mix and there is something everyone can excel at.”
All the instructors noticed an improvement in the children at the end of the week.
“You can be a beginner -- never danced before, never sang before, never acted before,” Darren said. “By the end of the five days, they turn into singing, acting and dancing pros.”
There have been many people who have been a part of Broadway North and went on to have great careers in performing arts, like Langlois.
“I realized what a difference it made for me,” Langlois said. “You also get a really great social setting. The friends that you make, you keep forever. A lot of these kids were quite timid on Monday and they are fast friends now.”
Not only do the classes teach the students those particular disciplines, they also learn important skills that transfer into other areas of their lives.
“I think the skills that you get from learning this stuff is not just about learning to sing and act and dance,” Darren said. “You can go on to be a singer, actor or dancer if you want, but parents really get a sense of the self esteem and self building that comes out of them.”
“I don’t care if any of them become performers, I just think those skills will help you when you are a CEO, in a boardroom, giving a speech or interviewing for a job,” McCaffery added. “They are skills for life, we say.”
The camp also teaches children important life skills that may be lost in the technological age, McCaffery said.
“So much of the technology today is texting so vocabulary is lost, you are missing the visual cues in real life, interpersonal skills and (how to read) body language,” McCaffery said. “We force them to remember how to speak properly, use their diction, keep their head up high, eye contact -- social skills that tend to fall by the wayside.”
On Friday evening, they finished the camp with a free show for friends and family, showing off the new skills they learned throughout the week.
“The kids on the stage just shine,” McCaffery said. “They look great.”