STATEN ISLAND, NY— The St. George Theater stage lit up on Friday with 65 smiling Staten Island student performers for a talent showcase that was the culmination for the 2022 Summer Dance, Theater, and Literacy Outreach Program.
Every year the St. George Theater hosts a FREE program for young people ages 9-18 designed to up their game when it comes to personal achievement and wellness. The showcase was attended by the students’ family and friends, which was followed by an awards ceremony.
Achievement awards are given to the students and three scholarships to attend dance at Mrs. Rosemary’s Dance Studio for one full year. The winners are Mikayla Cappillo, Richie Francis and Nyya Mack.
The showcase featured all the students performing the dances, songs, and spoken word pieces they had worked so hard on learning in the program, including: “Fame” inspired by Debbie Allen, “Spirit” inspired by Alvin Ailey, “Break My Soul” and “Break My Sou” by Beyonce, “Swan Lake” inspired by Misty Copeland, “Still I Rise” by Maya Angelou and “Change Sings” by Amanda Gorman, and “Respect” by Aretha Franklin.
“I had a great time in this program because everyone was very nice and I learned a lot,” said student Noah Ocasio. “I enjoy singing and dancing and the other kids and the teachers are very nice. I enjoyed the entire two weeks.”
This program began in 2004 when Mrs. Rosemary and her daughters, Doreen Cugno and Luanne Sorrentino, invited the neighborhood teens to learn about dance and theater and it has grown to be an impactful youth program funded by the Department of Cultural Affairs and Con Edison held annually. In attendance were Amanda Straniere and Mateamarie Vento, specialists for Staten Island Regional & Community Affairs.
The staff and faculty working with the students included Maya Burke, Tom Cintula, Anna Polyachenko, Alyssa Rowan, Grace Acquilano, Rose Cugno, Elizabeth DeLeo, Kate DiScalo and Leila Polio.
“Our goal is to share our knowledge of the arts to our students all while we inspire, motivate, enrich, and educate,” said Doreen Cugno, co-founder of the St. George Theater and President & CEO of the St. George Theater Restoration. “The 65 students learned about many techniques in dance while being introduced to theater, music, and so much more.
“Classes included modern, ballet, hip-hop, music, singing, spoken word, musical theater, dance history, preparation for auditions, and performance.”
The theme for this year’s program was “Inspiring Icons in Music and Dance.” From Aretha Franklin to Beyoncé, Alvin Ailey to Misty Copeland, and more, the students explored the role of influencers in music and dance for the past 50 years and were exposed to a variety of disciplined classes in dance and theater to gain confidence in the real world. world.
“Our goal since inception was to enrich the lives of our students and spark an interest in the arts,” said Luanne Sorrentino, co-founder of the St. George Theatre. “Days like today validates the importance of arts programming for our youth and we’re beyond thrilled we’ve been able to contribute in our own way through dance, music, spoken word, and theater.
HIGHLIGHTS OF THE SUMMER OUTREACH PROGRAM
The 65 students received a book bag filled with fun and enriching books about dance, theater, famous performers, healthy lifestyles, urban planting, and positivity, all to motivate and inspire. Fan favorite books were the life of Misty Copeland, Aretha Franklin and Alvin Ailey. Students were given reading “fun-work” with the books in addition to practicing their techniques in dance and voice.
“Con Edison is proud to support the St. George Theater and their Summer Outreach Program,” said Amanda Straniere of Con Edison. “For more than ten years, we have watched this workshop ignite a passion for dance, poetry, and the arts, culminating in a wonderful showcase performance.
“What these students are able to accomplish in just two weeks is incredible. Thank you to the amazing team at the St. George Theater and bravo to the students!”
On a special day of the program, board memeber Dana Walker-Boyd spent time with the amazing summer outreach students sharing her expertise in gardening tips, experiencing gardening and how it can relieve stress, provide a source of community, happiness, and can help with healthier eating habits. In addition, the participants learned how to garden in their very own space and were gifted herbs and veggie plants.
To the delight of the students, invitations to all were extended to return and enjoy shows at the theater. The 2022 lineup includes Guys and Dolls presented by In the Wings; Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory; and the annual The Christmas Show at the St. George Theatre.
In addition, the students will enjoy The True Story of the 3 Little Pigs! resented by Illuminart on July 30. Students will also return during the year to participate in a new after-school program for master classes in dance and theater.
On Aug. 2, it’s St. George Theater Day at the FerryHawks Game at the SIUH Community Park and students will perform for the spectators followed by enjoying the game with their families.
STARS OF OUR SHOW
The participants of the St. George Theater Outreach Program 2022 are Olivia Barry, Anthony Barry Jr, Alia Maria Beach, Damali Browne, Onuora Browne, Amaya Bunch, Vikayla Cappillo, Migdalia Cintron, Elizabeth Cruz, Samantha DeSatnick, Olivia DiLeo, Carol DiNapoli, Christina DiNapoli, Ella Ehrlich, Safiya Ettu, Gianna Fiduccia, Nataly Flores, Richie Francis, Ariel Gonzalez, Emilee Henry, Andrea Hernandez, Anastasia Howard, Gavin Hui and Milani Jackson.
Also: Meghan Jessnik, Patrick Jessnik, Liam LeFurge, Janelle Lima, Alexa Lima, Nyya Mack, Mikayla Matos, Alexandria McBeth, Ariana Mendez, Annalia Miller, Ava Murray, Grace Murray, Daniel Noumi, Maya O’Brien, Noah Ocasio, Kaylee Olguin, Jade Perez, Peter Romano, Claire Scala, M’Qayla Stokley, Aryana Vazquez, Aliya Vazquez, Alyvia Vazquez, Gianna Veloz, Savannah Venditto and Maxymilian Zygmanski.
Soloists include: Richie Francis, Mikayla Matos, Annalia Miller; Ella Ehrlich, Liam LeFurge, Grace Murray, Daniel Noumi, Savannal; Samantha DeSatnick, Maya O’Brien, Noah Ocasio, Mikayla Matos; Mikayla Cappillo and Jade Perez.