Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Look, a new day has begun... introductions and Week One events

This is one of my favorite lines from "Memory" and the musical "Cats". As Grizabella sings of her past life and bygone days, she looks forward to her future life. I thought of this song as we welcomed the 28 students of Next Step Prep for the 2010 summer session.

So....without further ado...WELCOME to: Em, Sarah B., Eric, Annie, Logan, Sarah P., Ana, Michael, Arielle, Blake, Skye, Micaela, Mikaila, Sierra, Elinor, Nicky, Nyna, Tessa, Maddy, Riley, Jacque, Mandie, Jadi, Caleigh, Clayton, Sarai, Cooper, and Rylee.

Here's one of the Next Step Prep coordinators, Greg Boris, addressing the masses and organizing tours of the MCT building...

The Next Step Prep students, new and returning, get to know each other and talk about the next six weeks they'll spend together...

This year, instead of homestays with local families, the out-of-town students are residing in one of the residence halls at the University of Montana. I've heard through the grapevine that several of the students are getting up at 5:30 a.m. to jog around campus. Ah...youth! The residence students enjoy breakfast and dinner on-campus while lunch is provided to all the students by Next Step Prep.

Jim Caron (center, Next Step Prep founder), talks with Nyna (right, a returning student from the inaugural class) and Megan Hartman (left, one of the dorm counselors and one of the tour actors/directors for MCT).

The summer kicked of with an informal BBQ on the patio at MCT. It was a gorgeous, sunny day with nary a cloud in the sky. Here's the view from the patio (sorry...couldn't get a photo of the "M" at the University...the trees were in the way. This is the "L", which stands for Loyola High School, where several of our Next Step Prep students attend during the regular school year).

We give a special thanks to John Arvish, BBQ master extraordinaire and orchestrator of lunches for the summer! John is a fixture at MCT and a master of all trades...from talented actor to sound board technician, to fix-it-in-a-jiffy person, he is an absolute asset to the organization. That's him in the yellow shirt next to the BBQ.

In addition to our students we also welcome back our core acting teacher, Dane Madssen, who hails from the Las Vegas area.

During the first week, Dane assisted the students in reviewing and learning fundamental acting techniques, stage and body positioning, and vocal projection techniques. The students worked on timing and learning the "beat" of a scene. Through improv games, the students got to know each other and share multiple laughs. While the improv games were entertaining and playful, they also taught the students partnering skills, learning to play up to and off of each other's strengths, and developing scenes together.

In dance class, new Next Step Prep instructor Traci Traasdahl focused a great deal on cardiovascular strength while also learning jazz and hip hop techniques.

When I showed up one day to photograph, I was greeted by the thunderous sound of 15 students sprinting up and down the three flights of stairs at the MCT building, most of whom were wearing a smile on their faces. I'm not sure about you, but for me this gave a whole new meaning to the term "run-through". She also did a lot of education on anatomy and the muscular-skeletal system, helping the students to learn body mechanics.

In music class, new Next Step Prep instructor Troy Bashor (Troy, I will be getting a photo of you soon!!!) assisted the students in rehearsing "Brand New You", the unofficial Next Step Prep anthem, in anticipation of the arrival of Jason Robert Brown later in the week. He also began teaching and reviewing music theory, helping the students to understand the mechanics of vocal performance.

Week #1 focused on an assessment of the students' skills, review and instructions in the mechanics of dance, music and acting, and preparation for this week's guest artist. We are so excited to kick off this year's program and so thankful you have entrusted these talented performers to our care.

I am also quite grateful to have the honor of photographing again this year and can't wait to see the summer unfold.

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