40 Years…40 Stories

Celebrating 40 Years…together

In celebration of Young Audiences New Jersey & Eastern Pennsylvania’s 40th Anniversary, we would like to share the YA stories of the people in our community. This includes students, teachers and artists as well as board and staff members past and present. We want to know how Young Audiences has impacted your life.

Here is a moving story shared by Anthony’s mom…what is Your YA Story?

Anthony’s Story – Discovering Confidence

Anthony and his motherSometimes, a child has to try something new to discover who they really are. For Anthony, that self-discovery came in sixth grade.

A slim boy with brown hair, Anthony was an average student. Friendly but quiet, Anthony was more interested in sports than in school.

“He just kind of blended in with the other kids,” says Melanie Bodner, Anthony’s sixth-grade dance teacher at his school in Manahawkin, NJ. “He didn’t have a focus, or something that made him excited to be in school. He didn’t really know where his place was.” But that year, Anthony found his place—and his passion—when Young Audiences’ Illstyle & Peace dance troupe came to his school, through an Artists-in-Education grant. During the 20-day residency, the Illstyle dancers worked with Anthony’s class on a hip-hop infused, anti-bullying performance piece that stressed self-esteem and acceptance.

Out of 60 classmates, Anthony was cast in the lead role, which involved dancing, singing and acting. The change in him was immediate; where once he had blended in, now he began to shine. “It just brought him to life,” Melanie relates. Soon Anthony was arriving early to class and showing other teachers his new dance moves, always with a big grin. He also became a leader to his classmates, encouraging them to try new things, too.

“Anthony loved the energy, the spirit, the mentoring—everything we brought to him, he took it in and applied it to his life,” affirms Young Audiences teaching artist Brandon “Peace” Albright, the artistic director of Illstyle & Peace. “I was able to work with him and say to him, ‘If this is one of the things you want to become, this is your opportunity right now. You can do all of these things.’”

Here is how to submit your story:

All you need to do is send us a short 250-300 word story or a couple of minutes of video (format: MP4, MOV, WMV) describing how a YA program or experience increased your appreciation of the arts. We will be publishing select stories on our website and any photos or images related to a written submission are more than welcome!

Below is the list of questions that incorporate YA’s 4 core elements that you can use as a guideline and for inspiration as you formulate your story.

1)      What was your own  EXPERINECE(s) with the arts that brought you to appreciate that they are essential in the life of a child?

2)      How do you UNDERSTAND the power of the arts to transform schools and communities?

3)      Why do you think that CREATIVITY can change the world?

4)      Where and how does your work with YA CONNECT to your own life and learning?

Please email your YA story or video to Denyce Mylson at dmylson@yanj.org

With each story submission, please include your mailing address in the email. If you uploaded your video to YouTube or Vimeo, you can email a link as your submission. By submitting your story, photo or video, you give permission to Young Audiences to post your story on our Website and YouTube and/or Vimeo account.