Learning life skills through the arts

Jodi Schellenberg
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To Broadway North, show business is more than song and dance -- it is valuable life skills.

During the Broadway North Summer Intensive Camp last week four instructors -- Gillian and Darren McCaffrey, Roxanne Dicke and Karen Langlois -- took the week to teach self-confidence through dance, drama and music.

“It is that stepping stone to have that extra self-confidence to do anything in life,” Gillian McCaffrey said. “If you can hold an audience’s attention, you can stand in front of a Grade 4 classroom and hold their attention. It helps in any life skill.

“We always say that anytime we are doing a Broadway North program, yes we are training singing, acting and dancing, but what we are also training is that self-confidence,” she added. “If you can stand on stage and perform in front of people, you would be able to stand in front of your board room and give a report when the CEO is present, or you can be able to make rounds when you are a doctor and speak confidently to your staff.”

She has seen the progress the students made from the start of the camp to the end.

“There are some budding superstars. It is very exciting,” McCaffrey said. “The progress the kids have made from the beginning, even the people who maybe can’t read sheet music so well when they are so young, it is wonderful to see that.”

The camp also helps with communication, something McCaffrey feels is being lost in the age of technology.

“So many people are into their cell phones and texting and they are losing that verbal communication,” she explained. “They are not reading facial cues properly anymore -- you don’t know you are making a joke unless you say lol at the end -- so this is so important for them to be in each other’s presence and not looking at a phone but into someone’s eyes.

“It is excellent for anything you want to do in your life, whether they want to have a life on stage or a fulfilled life, we think this is a great program.”

The camp, which was held at the E.A. Rawlinson Centre, exceeded the instructors’ expectations.

“It went really well,” McCaffrey said. “We’ve been doing these camps for a few years now and we can see the fruits of our labour because the kids in these master classes, they are super sharp, they are super keen, they are asking all the right questions and they are eager to learn.

“You can just tell that they have been trained from 10, 11, 12 years old and now that they are the teenagers, they are really on top of their game,” she added. “They are asking perfect questions to maybe launch themselves into show business, into the real world of theatre.”

The master classes are full of students who have been in the program since its inception.

“You aren’t teaching them basic skills anymore -- you were teaching them more advanced skills,” McCaffrey said. “That is wonderful. That means they are keen and want to learn. We love teaching people who like to learn.”

Next up for Broadway North will be the fall semester from Sept. 6 to Dec. 13. They will be putting on the production of Disney’s Peter Pan Jr.

Organizations: E.A. Rawlinson Centre

Geographic location: Broadway North

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