What barriers are we going to knock down today? by Matthew Oster

It’s fascinating, in this business you agree to projects for a few different reasons. For example, maybe it will build your resume, or maybe it will connect you to someone that can help you with your future or maybe it is just a project you are super passionate about. When Luis asked me to join the Beyond Workshop Series, I honestly went in with no expectations.

I figured I haven’t worked much with Shakespeare and I always learn something working with Luis and have the best time, let’s give it a try. Inever expected to be changed as an artist and even more as a human being.

Living in New York now for two years on and off, you tend to start hating waking up at 5:30 in the morning to stand in line to audition and then most likely not get seen. I know, it sounds awful, right? But do you know what sounds worse?  Waiting in line at customs, hoping your visa is approved to get the opportunity to do what you love. Missing the first day due to a problem with his visa, a student came on the second day and dropped to his knees crying because he was so grateful to finally be in New York doing what he loved. You would think he was making his Broadway debut. But it is more than that. It is not about where you perform or how famous you can get. It’s about doing what you love and making a difference, and some people don’t have that opportunity.  R.Evolución Latina provides that platform.

I am so lucky for the opportunities that I have had, and this project has really shown me that and has made me want to do more. These classes are conservatory type classes with teachers that are actively in the profession. Each class gives you so many tools to apply to your artistry. That alone would make this experience worth it. However, I think what really made an impact on me was the other students. Luis always has a way of finding performers that lead with their souls and passion and this was no exception. These students came from all around South America and were so eager to get started, but more than that, they would do anything to be there. All saved up money, and most crammed into small sublets just to be a part of this work. (That’s how you know it is worth the time and commitment). It made waking up at 5 am a breeze. I speak and understand very little Spanish, and by little I mean you really have to use basic words, but I have met some of the most incredible people through this process that have now become a part of my inner circle even with the language barrier.

Our language is love, passion, and art. We may come from different backgrounds and speak different languages but we have something in common and that is the work we do. R.Evolución Latina provides teachers and tools to further our education, yes, but it also provides a home for people who want to better the world through art. A home for misfits who know that art is more than jazz hands and hitting the highest note. Performing is just the cherry on the cake. What really filled my soul was going to National Dance Institute, seeing my friends and colleagues, and saying, “What barriers are we going to knock down today?” “What walls are we going to overcome?” “How are we going to better ourselves and each other?” “How can we reach past the things holding us back whether it be an outside source or our own inner demons?”

One student I got close with said to me at the end, “I wish my English was better so you could get to know the real me, not just the English words I know.” But the funny thing is, I felt like I knew him all my life and what mattered most to me was that he brought out something in me that made me want to be a better performer and a better person. The rest could be worked out. We don’t need any more reasons to hide, society gives us enough of those. We need a place to express ourselves and grow, and R.Evolución Latina does just that. This is a place where I want to work and grow for as long as I can. There is no limit to what we can do.

 

Matthew Oster / 2018 BWS Student