Hundreds Deliver Powerful Messages At Harlem Performing Arts Festival 2017

On Wednesday, February 22nd, 2017, eleven second and third grade students burst on to the stage of Success Academy Union Square for Success Academy’s third annual Festival of the Performing Arts, as the song “Symphony of Brotherhood,” by Miri Ben-Ari began to play over the speaker.

…a packed house of over 200 proud parents, educators, and community members from Harlem, the Bronx, and Brooklyn.

The dance, titled, “I Have a Dream,” was just one of twelve powerful performances delivered by 170 elementary, middle, and high school students at the festival, which drew a packed house of over 200 proud parents, educators, and community members from Harlem, the Bronx, and Brooklyn.

Middle school dancers from Success Academy Harlem North West performed a theatrical piece called, “Being Black in America,” which featured dancing, music, and acting.

Against the backdrop of Black History Month, student performers delivered a timely message about issues like race and diversity in America. Middle school dancers from Success Academy Harlem North West performed a theatrical piece called, “Being Black in America,” which featured dancing, music, and acting.

“True equality and racial justice has not yet to be achieved in our world,” said Mickey Sakai, the dance teacher who helped arrange the piece. “I want my scholars to understand that we need to pay attention and learn from those who came before us, that it is our job to continue to use education and hard work to fight for our rights.”

“Dance teaches me about the past and dance teaches us about the stuff we don’t know about from the past,” said Maylee Thomas a third grader from SA Bronx 4. “It’s important for kids to learn dances because the movements tell you stuff from the past. I feel like I can express myself and do different kinds of stuff like that.”

This year, Success Academy enrolled nearly 9,000 scholars in extracurricular clubs that include dance, theater, and choir —  on top of elective performing arts classes that are offered during the school day. “Self-expression is so important in this day and age – it helps kids understand what’s happening around them and their culture,” said Colleen Stewart, the senior manager of scholar talent at Success Academy.  “It also instills confidence and an ability to think on your feet that students don’t always experience in academic classes.”

Shirley Bruce, the grandmother of a SA Fort Greene fourth grader was emotional seeing her granddaughter on stage. “Many of the performances tonight sent a message out during Black History Month, that we matter as a people. It’s not about black or white — it’s just making a statement about our lives,” said Shirley. “I’m very happy to see her out there. There was a time when kids didn’t have these kind of outlets to perform on stage, and now they do — they give children hope.”

 

For more information about Success Academy, go to Successacademies.org.

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