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Camp “Artselle” closes with ragtime show

Andrea Williamson

Hartselle Enquirer

The curtain rose in the Hartselle Fine Arts Center auditorium as the Camp “Artselle” participants took the stage for their showcase on the evening of Thurs., May 18.

Beginning with a black-and-white silent film made by the Camp “After Hours” production team, the show featured a 1920s theme, complete with flappers, gangsters and ragtime music. At the beginning of the show, the “After Hours” music and dance class participants performed to “Singing in the Rain,” with the Camp “Artselle” campers singing along. Other musical numbers were performed to “Me and My Shadow,” “Yes Sir, That’s My Baby” and “Happy Days are Here Again.”

Along with an abundance of music and dance, the students also demonstrated their theatre skills. A comedy skit from Vaudeville was performed. Additionally, students told jokes and shared facts about the political and social changes occurring during the 1920s.

Although the children took center stage for much of the show, the sixth through 12th grade students from Camp “After Hours” were also a large part of the production. During the week, the older students worked as counselors for Camp “Artselle” and then participated in Camp “After Hours” later in the afternoon. The students selected two master classes from workshops such as choreography, improvisation, music and production, providing an opportunity for the participants to study more in-depth material in the different fine art categories.

John Ballew, a third-year “After Hours” participant and Camp “Artselle” counselor said that his favorite class was improvisation. He said that he learned about creating a character and then working to develop and become that persona.

The camp also provided students with the opportunity to step outside of their comfort zones. Lauren Powell, a student at the Alabama School of Fine Arts, said that she took classes in choreography and production during the week. As a theatre major as ASFA, these gave her an opportunity to learn something new.

While the camp focused on the arts, both directors and counselors emphasized the close bonds that were built during the week as an important part of the experience.

“My favorite part of the week was making a new friend,” said Alyssa McMinemon, a rising sixth-grader who worked as a counselor-in-training. “She and I could possibly be involved in the arts together again sometime.”

According to Assistant Director Jenny Faulk, this year’s camp produced a particularly close group of students and counselors.

“This was my favorite camp and group of counselors,” Faulk said. “I say that every year, though. We became a close-knit family, and the energy and support just made this week very special. The kids were so supportive of one another, and our volunteers were always smiling and always willing to help.”

Ballew agreed with Faulk’s thoughts on the week.

“This week was somewhat simpler than our usual camp,” Ballew said. “We focused less on the theatrics, but we focused more on the kids and were able to develop great relationships.”

As the curtain fell on the performance, the family and friends in the audience enthusiastically applauded their campers, marking the end of a fun-filled week.

“Our closing song, ‘Happy Days Are Here Again,’ truly expresses the week we had together,” Faulk said.