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VIDEO: Connecting Artists and Kids Through UMS Youth Performances

By Sara Billmann

During a two week period (that began on Friday) UMS hosts five “youth performances” — performances by mainstage artists held during the school day and attended by kids ranging from ages 5-18 from throughout southeastern Michigan.  In December, the Carolina Chocolate Drops gave a youth performance to a full house of kids the same day as their sold-out public performance, teaching songs and sounds, as well as performing music.  The atmosphere was electric.  At the public performance, the CCD talked about how committed they are to providing educational experiences for youngsters and how much they enjoyed performing for the kids earlier in the day.  In this video, some students from a local elementary school in Ann Arbor talk about what they enjoyed most about the performance.

Although they only last an hour, these youth performances take literally dozens of people and hundreds of person-hours to pull off.  For each performance, UMS creates a “teacher resource guide” that provides background information for teachers, as well as activities they can conduct with students in the classroom.  Dozens of Advisory Committee volunteers serve as ushers and provide logistical support for getting all of the students in and out of the venue in a timely fashion.  And, of course, backstage the production staff is working with the artists to ensure a top-notch performance.  UMS Youth Education Manager Omari Rush is at the center of it all, creating the teacher resource guides, communicating with teachers, ushers, production staff, and following up with those in attendance to ensure an optimal experience.

Recent performances include Brazilian dance, a Native American songwriter, a salsa band, and high school students performing classical music:

Grupo Corpo — Friday, January 21

Joanne Shenandoah — Monday, January 24

Baby Loves Salsa — two performances on Monday, January 31

Sphinx Competition — Friday, February 4

UMS Youth Performances are just one component of a well-rounded youth education program that also includes teacher “cultural literacy” workshops; culture-focused book clubs;  day-long intensive “immersions” that focus on a specific culture, community, or art form; and training with education experts provided as part of UMS’s relationship with the Kennedy Center Partners in Education program, which provides educators with arts-infused strategies to enhance student learning across various areas of the curriculum.  Click here for complete details on all youth education programs.

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