So… Guess who’s back friends?!!! It’s been a while since my last blog right? But RL is back this year with wonderful projects and fun surprises and of course, this blog won’t be the exception.
Today, we’re going to go a little bit in another direction and Instead of talking about a super interesting person (as we always do) we’ll be talking about a super interesting program. Ladies and Gentleman: THE BEYOND WORKSHOP SERIES.
Just to put it in context for those who don’t know or who are not sure what it is. The Beyond Workshop Series (BWS) is an educational program of R.Evolución Latina, dedicated to young artist in formation and recent graduates who want to keep their skills sharp and ready to go beyond with their art.
This is officially the 6th year that R.Evolución Latina has offered this fabulous program and I had the great opportunity to be part of the audition process which I what I would like to talk about.
A little bit of nerves here, a little bit of expectation there, with a hint of a sense of competition. Sound familiar? Sound like something that you have felt every now and then when you’re about to step into the audition room? Well, one of those sensation didn’t even cross anyone’s mind last Sunday.
It is ten o’clock and all the RL participants are sitting on the wooden floor. We’re all from different cultures and countries. Americans, Latin-Americans, Peruvians, Colombians, Mexicans, etc, all excited to begin but having no idea of what a blast of a day it would be. We stretch, we go over our songs, we try to keep ourselves ready.
Our director, Luis Salgado and BWS coordinator, the beautiful Hanley Smith, open the audition/workshop day by daring us to go beyond, giving a short explanation of today’s agenda and asking us to form a line then, a perfect circle in 10 seconds, we did with no success AT ALL. Luis promised that by the end of the day we would be able to accomplish these tasks.
Then the great Mr. Ian Hersey (BWS Shakespeare teacher) gets to the room and the Shakespeare audition has begun!
Two lines. That’s it. All of the participants got to do two verses by Shakespeare, get feedback and a little bit of coaching in two minutes. He taught us the importance of breathing, spontaneity, diction…but the greatest lesson wasn’t even taught by the teacher. IT was taught by one of our Cuban friends who was very nervous about his English. He was scared to do something wrong or not to be “as good” as the rest of the native English speakers but he was brave and daring. He stands up. He asks for permission to read it. He reads it, he acts, he gets his coaching, he works on the notes he gets…and by the end of the two minutes he is able to do it, completely off book. I could read it on his forehead: I dare to go beyond…
The rest of the day continues with the fun dance and movement auditions by Matthew Steffens and Rickey Tripp. “MOVE FREELY!” “CREATE!” “DO WHATEVER YOU WANT” were some of the phrases that the auditionees heard during these 2 hours but as time went on they found themselves struggling with the given steps/combinations. “It’s all about balance”, we all conclude later on while talking to Luis Salgado. “You can’t just have impeccable movement without something going on, but you also can’t just have something to tell without doing the right steps. The balance of both is what makes you a good artist”. Good lesson right?
By this time of the day all the students feel so wise that they could write a book. They’re not scared anymore. They are so ready to belt their faces off for the vocal audition, ran by BWS faculty member, William Wade. They are confident with themselves, with the rest of the auditionees and with the people in the panel. Even those who didn’t think of themselves as singers, were ready to show what they had. There were many remarkable moments at this time but I would like to highlight one. The moment when the auditionee and RL volunteer Chris McClellan, sang “This Little Light of Mine”. She just stands up, sings, and suddenly all the people in the room get in the same mood. We all sing along in those brief 16 bars. The sense of community is right there letting everybody SHINE.
And finally the audition is concluded. No one knows who is going to make it into the BWS. But at this point all the participants have been touched, empowered and inspired by the teachers and their fellow classmates. They all have something new to share to their communities and are ready to go Beyond…Workshop Series.
At the end of the day. Everybody was able to form a line and a circle in less than 10 seconds. Magic!!