Summer staging

It didn’t take long for the young summer campers to become disillusioned with Camp Granada. In a brief 24-hour period, they had endured an outbreak of malaria, poison ivy, threat of bears, fighting amongst themselves, and readings from Ulysses. Home and kisses from Aunt Bertha never looked better.

The beach cafe experience was just as bad. The rude host roughly shoved the guests to their tables, a couple waitresses got into a physical squabble, and to top it off, the food was beyond dreadful. Appalled and horrified, the hungry customers left the cafe, in mass, on the hunt for more appealing (and edible) pizza.

It was just another day at the Energy Explosion Performance Camp, held by the Community Dance and Theater last week, where the 18 young “campers,” had the opportunity to create and perform their own works - whether a theater skit, musical jam session, or song and dance routine.

They also learned what goes on behind the scenes, and bounced around ideas for the set. Preliminary sketches were made for set design, each child drew a summer scene, and a final composite was made to use as a guide for painting the beach backdrop.

In between, rehearsals were going strong and creativity ran rampant.

After being split into four teams, with each group receiving three items, the students worked together to create an imaginative, cohesive scene.

Team members, Lindsay Martin and Cassie Longcor, both 12, created a “confused fairytale,” all jumbled up with super heroes - like Super Woman, Lava Girl, Shark Boy, Super Fly, and the Tooth Fairy - who each believed they were within their own individual story.

Free-flowing, collaborative creativity is not only welcome, but encouraged at this studio, which opened 14 years ago. Karen Urrutia and Jennifer Moore are co-owners, while Teena Hagerman is the artistic director. The trio also relies on summer camp counselors, such as 15-year-old Amy Young, who attends Yosemite High School. Young said she plays stage manager, and does a little bit of everything to help out where she can.

“Dance and theater is my passion,” Urrutia said, “and passing my love of the arts on to the youth in this community empowers them for public speaking, job interviews, meeting new people ... and it helps bring them out of their shells. This is a safe place for them to figure out what they like to do. They are free to be silly or dramatic ... to be whatever mood strikes them.”

“It’s a collaborative effort, whether we’re doing a full-blown play, or our dance shows,” Urrutia added. “They have great ideas and we get multiple perspectives ... it makes the final outcome better.”

An open house will be held 11 a.m. - 3 p.m., Aug. 29, with open art, theater and dance classes. Registration for fall classes is ongoing, with classes beginning in September.

“You won’t find any bling, egos, or ‘I’m better than you attitudes,’” Hagerman said “ ... just an entire studio that wants to learn and entertain the world together.”

Community Dance and Theater is located at 35340 Highway 41, in Coarsegold’s Historic Village.

Details: (559) 642-6555.