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December 03, 2016
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I believe the children are our future

More than 800 theatre arts students from New York state attended the NYSTEA conference in Callicoon, NY last weekend.

Show them the beauty they possess inside—“As a first-time NYSTEA participant, I cannot explain how extraordinary this experience is,” Strauss told me. “Someday,” she continued, “I’ll be able to brag that I met these students before they became tomorrow’s Broadway stars, TV producers, film professionals and rock legends. NYSTEA is here to present an opportunity for the kids to learn more about their chosen field… yet I know that it’s us, the adults, who received the learning experience of a lifetime, as these students showed us their determination, talent and unending perseverance and their love of the arts.” With workshops ranging from “how to sing a comic song,” to “dance for non-dancers” and “set design on a shoestring,” there was something for everyone and the kids’ enthusiasm was infectious. “There are no ‘outsiders’ here” said 15-year-old Rosie Canzoneri. “The conference is a ‘no-judgment zone,’” and her newfound BFF Maddy Albest concurred. “This is my second year and one of the best experiences of my life,” she said with great enthusiasm. The girls had just met but were quick to point out that the convention presents an even playing field for all. “There are no cliques,” Rosie continued, “no nerds, no geeks, no ‘pretty little liars’ here. We are one big, happy family and all beautiful in our own special way.” Noting that I was close to tears, the girls giggled and bid adieu to the dog, heading to the nightclub for closing ceremonies.

Give them a sense of pride—Throughout the three-day intensive, the kids write, compose and choreograph in the seminars, meeting with counselors and college reps in between, some of whom express interest in recruiting future scholarship candidates for theatre-arts programs on campuses across the state. To a fault, the kids encourage their counterparts, whether their own performances are chosen for the finale or not, and as the multitudes fill the nightclub for the final curtain, the thrill and excitement is palpable. “Are you emotional, too?” asked Pavloff, taking me aside. “I spoke with one of our students just now,” she said. “You might want to write this down.” Whipping out my pad and pen, I scribbled furiously. “You know that day-afterChristmas feeling when you’re sad that you have to wait another year until it happens again?” he had asked her. “Take that, multiply by 10 million and there you have my current emotion.”