Children bring drama, dance and art to Shasta County after hiatus

Children and teens are bringing Shasta County arts programs back to life after a two-year hiatus during the COVID-19 pandemic.

They are returning to in-person classes and performing in front of live audiences this summer.

“I love being back in person,” said Audrey Beazor, a 16-year-old dancer from Redding City Ballet, who has been taking ballet lessons since she was 5. “It’s normal for me. I just like something to be normal.”

Going back to the dance studio four times a week has helped her focus on her technique and see how far her peers have improved since March 2020, the Anderson resident said. “I was very excited, but I was also very nervous to dance with others – with people around me again.”

Even better is the return to live performance, she said. “I love dancing in front of people. I get an adrenaline rush from performing. I love hearing the audience’s reaction to what’s going on, whether I’m on stage or other people are on stage.”

Shasta County Youth Arts Programs reopened with full in-person programs this year.

Responses have been mostly positive, said Julie Smyrnos, executive director of the Redding Arts Project and associate artistic director of Redding City Ballet. “The parents are happy that we can once again organize lessons and shows. The kids are thrilled to be able to go back to doing what they love without restrictions.

But not everyone is ready to return to in-person classes.

About 45 students enrolled in studio programs this year, Smyrnos said. Most years there are 60 students.

Class sizes at Shasta County Arts Council summer arts camps are also smaller than they were in 2019, arts coordinator Agata Maruszewski said. Some classes have between half and three quarters of the usual number of pupils.

That’s enough to spur creativity: the Arts Council is offering its full summer schedule, said Executive Director Nancy Hill.

Anderson's Jason Dale holds the

Artistic directors hope audiences are also ready to return to theaters.

Students from the Redding Arts Project’s musical theater summer camp, Broadway Boot Camp, will perform “Singing in the Rain Jr.” July 22 and 23 at the Shasta College Theatre.

In 2020 and 2021, in-person arts programs were closed to reduce the spread of COVID-19. Restrictions on in-person gatherings prompted some instructors to teach classes online and hold virtual recitals, but not all facilities operated in a virtual world.

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The Arts Council has not offered virtual lessons outside of its Old Town Hall facility in downtown Redding, Hill said, although some members have offered private music and arts lessons in line.

“We did Zoom classes for the first month or two, but because dancing requires hands-on corrections, it wasn’t very effective in getting the students to progress the way they should,” Smyrnos said. “We have also released streaming versions of our Broadway Boot Camp production of ‘Aladdin’ and ‘The Nutcracker’.

Dance classes at the Redding Arts Project were approximately 75% full in June 2022 after a two-year hiatus.

Beazor took three weekly ballet classes on Zoom while restrictions on gatherings were in place in 2020 and 2021. “I would take a chair and use it as a barre and dance in my living room,” she said.

Teaching line dancing had its challenges. Technical difficulties made it difficult for instructors to hear, and Beazor was unable to attend advanced classes – which require a hard surface – because his house is carpeted. She also “missed having other dancers around,” she said.

The state’s lifting of restrictions on gatherings and events during the COVID-19 pandemic appears to persist into 2022. Program directors are confident they can schedule shows and classes for next fall and spring .

The Arts Council plans to release a full fall schedule by Aug. 1, Hill said.

Redding City Ballet has posted audition information on reddingcityballet.org for December performances of the classic ballet “The Nutcracker,” Smyrnos said, and plans to perform “Don Quixote” in May 2023 are in the works.

For more information or to purchase tickets for “Singin’ in the Rain,” call 530-245-1019, email info@thereddingartsproject.com, or visit theddingartsproject.com.

For more information about Shasta County Arts Council’s summer and fall classes, concerts and exhibits, call 530-241-7320, email hello@shastaartscouncil.org or visit at shastaartscouncil.org.

Jessica Skropanic is a reporter for the Record Searchlight/USA Today Network. She covers science, arts, social issues and entertainment stories. Follow her on Twitter @RS_JSkropanic and on Facebook. Join Jessica in the Get Out! Nor Cal Leisure Facebook Group. To support and support this work, please register today. Thanks.



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