VIDEO: Beaufort County students take part in music, acting workshop

rheaton@beaufortgazette.comMarch 2, 2012 

  • What: Variety show performed by the Young Americans and local students

    When: 7 p.m. today

    Where: Gym at Hilton Head Island Middle School, 55 Wilborn Road

    Cost: $8 for adults, $5 for senior citizens and students

  • Get breaking news, story updates and interesting reflections on Lowcountry schools by following Homeroom on Twitter.

The Hilton Head Middle School gymnasium isn't for basketball practice this weekend.

It's been transformed into a stage for about 120 area students in grades four through 12 who are learning to sing, dance and act -- with a dose of silliness mixed in.

The students are participating in an improvisation exercise, pretending to be fashion models who also are lobsters or unicorns saved by Noah. They're trying out dance moves many have never seen before -- mixing ballet's graceful turns and hip hop's energetic motions.

The students are participating in a three-day workshop with the Young Americans, a traveling group that puts on music education programs around the world.

The group includes 250 members, ages 17 to 23.

About 50 Young American cast members are involved in this week's workshop, the first in the area for the group that has been around nearly 50 years.

Kim Gallagher, a drama teacher at Hilton Head Middle, was a cast member of the Young Americans in the 1970s. When she saw the group perform in Ireland last year, she knew she wanted to bring the workshop to her students and others in the region.

Young American cast members began the workshop Thursday. It concludes today with a two-hour performance starting at 7 p.m. in the middle school's gym.

The show's first act is performed by the Young Americans, said Anna Marlow, the company manager.

"That's our gift to the community," she said. "And it serves to ignite the kids for the second act."

In the second act, students show off what they've learned.

The performance is similar to a variety show, Marlow said. There will be singing, dancing and skits.

Marlow said the experience is designed to get children out of their comfort zones and introduce them to something new.

For two Hilton Head Middle sixth-grade students, it's working.

Alexandra Tappeiner, 12, said she's learning not to be afraid to perform in front of others.

At one point, she was asked to sing for the group -- a cappella and without any preparation. She chose Elvis Presley's "Hound Dog."

"It leads to more self-confidence," she said of the exercise. "They're promoting going outside of our boundaries."

Carter Rohal said she came into the workshop feeling confident. The 12-year-old takes dance lessons in several styles, including ballet and jazz. But she's learned some new styles and steps from the Young Americans.

"I've never been comfortable with some of the dance styles," she said, adding she's also not used to singing.

Tappeiner said she's most concerned about remembering all the dance moves for today's show.

Rohal said she hopes everything goes smoothly -- a rarity in show business, as she already knows from dance recitals.

Those jitters aside, both are thrilled with the experience.

"This is a once-in-a-lifetime thing," Rohal said.

Follow reporter Rachel Heaton at twitter.com/HomeroomBft.

Related content

  1. Young Americans' website
  2. Missoula tour brings theater, life lessons to Hilton Head Elementary; Sept. 9, 2011

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