By Mary Gould
A group of little ones had just arrived for the first day of Elf rehearsal. Ranging in ages from 7 to 10, the stage seemed to swallow them whole as they giggled and gathered into some semblance of a line under the stage lights.
One young actress caught my attention. She was teeming with nervous energy that seemed to overcome every fiber of her being – without a prayer of standing still, she shifted her weight, tangled her arms, and stared at the floor.
During my tenure in theater production, I’ve seen this particular hue of anxiety once or twice, and approached my new student. With a few short cues, I had her step off and re-enter the stage with her head held high, shoulders squared, and arms resting comfortably at her sides. Like a dream, she floated in stage left and took her place among her fellow classmates completely transformed – calm, collected and confident.
She carried her new found gusto with her throughout the rest of rehearsal and, ultimately, to show-time itself.
There are many battle cries around the value of performing arts. How it brings a unique beauty to the world. How it serves as the ultimate form of self-expression. How it challenges us to think. How it inspires us. How it moves us.
As someone who has dedicated her life to the performing arts, I believe in all of these truths, but also in art as a discipline. Mastering your craft in performing arts requires honing inherent traits that have a way of strengthening your life both on and off stage.
Poise under pressure. Playing well with others. Presence in front of a crowd. Practicing for perfection. Just to name a few…
I believe in performing arts as a discipline that enriches us and enables us to be better, more productive people. If you needed another reason to find value in the arts, it is because they make us better human beings both personally and professionally.
This fundamental belief was the initial inspiration for the Summer in NYC Program, a three-week performing arts summer camp in The Big Apple where the students reside at The Juilliard School, working with world class artists, teachers, casting directors and agents. Private lessons are coupled with dynamic seminars, workshops, and activities along with attending performances on Broadway, at the New York Philharmonic, American Ballet Theatre, and more.