By Guest Blogger Pamela Kinter, Founder of Stagelights
As even my youngest Stagelights theatre students know, drama is a sport! It requires immense physical commitment and great focus and determination. Drama is also an art, with the body as its canvas. Performers must have confidence in their movements, a fine memory to learn their lines, and a voice that can be heard. But art is not just physical; it is expressive, creative, and emotional. At Stagelights, we emphasize that drama is both a sport and an art that requires students to use one very important tool—their imagination.
People often ask the Stagelights staff how we can help children create such beautiful and rich stories on stage. The answer is simple! Play-based learning offers a unique educational experience in a child’s life. After students leave their toddler years, many drama teachers use training methods with strict instruction rather than exploration and playfulness. The creativity and the imagination, which is so important for creating exciting characters onstage, has been squashed. Elements of playing imaginative games with 4-year-olds should still be incorporated with teenagers. At Stagelights, whether its singing, acting, or dancing, our arts education comes from a place of exploration and creativity.
Our team of professionals has always passionately believed that the performing arts positively affects a child’s growth and development. In 2010, Stagelights joined with Dr. Pam Kane’s Brightest Star to create a dynamic and positive three week performing arts camp. We grew from 20 students to 50 students over seven summers, encouraging actors to dance and singers to act, striving to create a positive summer experience for students from diverse backgrounds. Our campers (and staff) look forward to Brightest Star every year as the highlight of their summer.
In 2014, Stagelights was thrilled to be added as the Arts partner to a national STEAM grant, spearheaded by Guilford County Child Development, to bring theatre arts to the most economically challenged Triad students. What a thrill to give children, ages 2-5, exposure to the theatre arts!
In the Spring of 2016, we finally took the leap to make Stagelights a year-round theater studio. We still work all over the Triad in schools, public and private, as well as in early childhood centers. However, we now offer weekly classes in acting, dance, and song that guide children (as young as three through their teen years) through the exciting world of theatre. Our professional instructors encourage personal expression and focus on individual student development. What does that mean? We help very little ones find their stories and build their imagination through song and instruments, dance, and vocal expression. We help elementary students continue to create layered and interesting narratives, while gently nudging them to try new movement and expression that is outside of their comfort zones. Perhaps students in this age group become part of a specialized dance class, such as tap or ballet, or join one of our musical productions, like this fall’s Cinderella KIDS. As children progress into middle school and high school, we continue to provide an imaginative and expressive well-rounded arts education. Our high school students, who may be considering performing arts colleges, receive personalized coaching and continue to perform in our Stagelights productions, such as this winter’s The Pajama Game, while also performing in their school plays. At Stagelights, we focus on growth—and it shows. Our productions are a clear representation of our students’ confidence in their own talent and of the hard work that they put into every rehearsal.
At Stagelights, we always push our performers to know the stories behind the characters. We think “outside the box” and challenge our students to use their imagination. We help our performers develop rich and in-depth stories, so that when they step on stage, their characters are not flat, boring stereotypes. Yes, it is children’s theatre, but, at Stagelights, you might just forget that!
To signup for Stagelights fall classes, visit our website at www.stagelightstheater.com, call us at (336) 370-6337, or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We also post daily photo and video updates on our Facebook page at www.facebook.com/stagelightstheater. We look forward to meeting you!
*Sponsored by Stagelights