To develop kids’ creativity and get them moving this summer, consider the performing arts. Boulder County is rich in artistic opportunities for all ages, from camps and classes to theater and aerial dance opportunities.
Pollyanna Demitro, artistic director of the Boulder Performing Arts Co., said, “In the aftermath of COVID and in a world full of screens and social media, more kids are facing social anxiety and issues with self-confidence. In camp we focus on connecting with our students, helping them connect with their peers and working with them no matter their acting, singing or dancing ability to make sure they are picking up the underlying positive takeaways.” Benefits of the performing arts, said Barry Freniere, executive director of Rocky Mountain Theatre for Kids, include boosts in “confidence and discipline, engaging in self-expression and imaginative exploration, overcoming anxiety (and) teamwork.” Both the Boulder Performing Arts Co. and Rocky Mountain Theatre for Kids summer camps culminate in live performances. Demitro noted that even campers who don’t dream of an acting career will foster lifelong skills, such as competence in public speaking, through theater.
In fact, for youth who enjoy a theater atmosphere but shy away from the spotlight, “it’s really helpful to recognize that the arts offer a massive array of options for how to engage,” said Mary Wilkie, executive director of BackStory Theatre, which holds spring mini-classes and summer camps. She explained, “Is your child interested in programming? Set them up in front of a lightboard and let them go to town setting looped commands to control the audience’s engagement with a play. Want to design fashion or be a hairstylist? There’s a job for that. Want to write, improvise, dance, move, pretend, build sets or be a graphic designer? There’s a job for that.”
Dance and music camps likewise nurture confidence and creativity. Boulder Ballet school director Andrea Basile said, “Dance is a profound vehicle for creative self-expression and joy and can provide a life-altering impact to those who experience and engage with its power.” Allison Stone of Artistic Fusion Dance Academy said Artistic Fusion’s camps aim to improve “not only physical health but also mental health through positive encouragement and accomplishments within the classroom.”
Laura Burgamy, marketing coordinator at Frequent Flyers Aerial Dance in Boulder, believes her company’s unique take on dance is an especially fun way to encourage movement. She said, “If your child dreams of flying – the amazing freedom, fun and excitement, Aerial summer camp is for them. Aerial Dance summer campers build strength, flexibility, balance and coordination.”
As for music, School of Rock, with summer camps in Boulder, Broomfield and Denver, teaches kids “valuable teamwork and communication skills” alongside how to play an instrument, said Jennifer Moriarta, owner of School of Rock Broomfield. “Many students come to our summer camps with no prior experience, so it’s exciting to watch them learn how to operate an amp, or hold down a beat on the drums for the first time or become the lead singer in a rock and roll band – all in one short week,” she said.
If families are dabbling in the arts for the first time, Moriarta said, “Explore as much of the performing arts community as you can and see what your kids enjoy the most. There’s so much talent and creativity out there, and you never know what genre or art form will inspire a young person.”
Basile added that artistic development often blossoms at home: “Dance has been a tool for celebration, ceremony, performing and connection for many centuries. Showing your children it’s okay to move and be in their bodies without fear is a great first step. Try a dance party in your kitchen to your favorite music to get their love of dance started.”
By Sarah Huber, Raised in the Rockies
Photos courtesy: Artistic Fusion, BackStory Theatre, Boulder Ballet, Boulder Performing Arts, Frequent Flyers, School of Rock Broomfield.