Creativity in the Time of Covid–Oct. 10, 2021

Dance Students Wrap Week with UF Master Class

University of Florida Associate Professor of Dance and Choreography Trent Dwight Williams visited the VPA Dance studios to offer a master class on Oct. 8.

The students were ebullient as they learned his choreography. Williams emphasized important dance concepts, like creating the illusion of lightness, with humor. Of weightlessness, he quipped, “If you can’t hear my 180 (pounds) hit that ground, I shouldn’t be able to hear your 110!” Joking aside, it worked! The dancers worked so hard it appeared effortless.

Trent Dwight Williams, Associate Professor of Dance and Choreography

Williams’ career has included teaching at several colleges, including Howard University and the University of Maryland, but it’s probably his performances with acts like Destiny’s Child that resonated most with the dancers. Throughout the lesson, his humorous approach to feedback kept spirits as soaring as their grand jetes.

Millie Menke and Christian Hall take a quick break during class.

After the class, he shared information about UF’s School of Theatre + Dance and informed students about the audition process.

Hispanic Music Artists Celebrated for Hispanic Heritage Month

The hallways of building 8 are papered with posters featuring Hispanic artists that have influenced US culture and the arts. Students have been busy selecting and researching artists of interest to showcase in the halls.

Mr. Zickafoose Featured on ABC-7 for World Teacher Day

Mr. Z just can’t stay out of the spotlight! Fresh off his leading role as Pippin in Manatee Players’ “Pippin,” and appearance at Saturday Night Fever, he’s in the limelight again. In this interview on Suncoast View, his love for teaching is evident.

The son of educators, Mr. Z’s passion for his students is clear in everything he does, from his student-centered repertoire to his festive classrooms. The interview will shed light on what’s to love about this energetic, popular, visionary music teacher. Click the screenshot below to view the video!

Music Student’s Spirit and Grit Featured on Fox News

If you came out to Saturday Night Fever, you witnessed the music sensation that is Levi Gobin tickling the ivories for a number of modern hits. Levi, a new member of the VPA family, is a gifted pianist and musician with great aspirations. Despite his blindness, Levi displays tremendous vision when it comes to music and performance.

It turns out, music isn’t the only area in which he excels. The video highlights Levi’s training for a hardcore 5k obstacle competition on Oct. 9. Check out the spirited and gifted Levi, and his quest to shatter every boundary, by clicking the screenshot below!

BHS Invited to Event on Inclusion in the Arts

BHS Assistant Principal Greg Rumph joined a panel of other education leaders at FST’s Gompertz Theatre on Oct. 4 to discuss equity in the arts in Sarasota. The event, sponsored by the Suncoast Black Arts Collaborative’s Michele Redwine, explored diversity in the arts in Sarasota. Rumph joined a panel including college presidents, diversity officers, and Black art students to field questions about the Black experience in arts education programs. USF’s Center for PAInT (Partnership for Arts Integrated-Teaching) director Dr. Denise Davis-Cotton moderated.

Michele Redwine delivers closing remarks. The panel includes students Ayeola Whitworth (New College); Jesse Clark (Ringling CAD); Krystle Lemonias (USF); Fred Brown (SCF); college presidents Dr. Karen Holbrook (USF); Dr. Patricia Okker (New College); Dr. Carol Probsfeld (SCF); Dr. Larry Thompson (Ringling CAD); school leaders Greg Rumph; Dr Brenda Pinkney (SCF); Dr. William Woodson (New College); Samone Hicks (SCF).

Those questions ranged from the personal (“What kind of art makes you smile?”) to the political (“What steps is your organization taking towards a more inclusive arts experience?”). The discussion, from multiple perspectives and with a range of responses, was honest and illuminating. The work the Suncoast Black Arts Collaborative is doing has a goal of creating access to quality arts education.

Upcoming Events

Be sure to check out these upcoming events!

“Greek Freaks: Student Written Greek Plays” runs Oct 16 & 17 at 2 p.m., with an evening performance at 7 p.m. on Oct. 16, in the BHS Café. Written and directed by students, under the supervision of Ms. Sunny Smith, “Greek Freaks” is an intersection of ancient and modern. Classic such as the Midas and Medusa stories are rewritten in modern contexts.

The VPA Art Print Party, at 6 p.m. Oct. 22, is a fun take on an art exhibit. Original student designs are screen-printed on garments (T-shirts, aprons, bags, and more), so guests take home a practical souvenir. This year, Art Department Chair Steve Strenk has envisioned a drive-thru concept, so guests will roll up, order, and have their goods delivered via roller skating artists. Pre-printed items: $10 + fees, BYO garment to be printed for $5 + fees.

The BHS VPA Forecast Festival, held from 10 a.m.-12 p.m. on Nov. 6, is a one-stop-shop for anyone interested in Booker VPA. With performances, games, tours, and interactive activities, the festival gives prospective families a chance to see the school and learn what we have to offer. Tell your middle school friends or anyone considering Booker VPA for the upcoming year.

Creativity in the Time of Covid–June 13, 2021

Gold Shines!

The VPA Faculty in “Gold.”

On Friday night, all that glittered was gold, as the VPA faculty dazzled an audience of Booker students, alum, and other friends of the VPA with a stunning array of performances. “Gold: A Faculty Showcase” had plenty of delights on tap: Courtney Smith, performing hip hop choreographed by Kris Powell; Amanda Nix leading a rock band as she shredded her violin in a rousing rendition of “The Devil Went Down to Georgia;” Scott Keys and Alex Zickafoose humbly plucking away “Gold” from the musical Once; Sung Choe, Ellen Saxton, along with invited guests delivering masterful turns in classical music, the list goes on…

Scott Keys, along with Cynthia Howe Ashford, Sunny Smith, Caleb Carrier, Rebecca Abrahamson perform a “Lucky Medley” arranged and orchestrated by Johnnie Mnich.

“Gold” was the first-ever VPA faculty performance, but the reception was so positive that we will definitely make this an annual event.

This year, the event doubled as a send-off to the legendary Scott Keys, a cherished part of the VPA Faculty. Mr. Keys has taught in the Theatre Department for 21 years, leading the department to multiple wins and plenty of recognition at the annual Florida Theater Conference, the Southeastern Theatre Conference, and more.

Along with being a uniquely talented teacher, director, writer and theatre artist, Mr. Keys has been a trusted and competent leader and collaborator both within the VPA and in the school at large. His legacy is enormous, as evidenced by the hundreds of students who’ve participated in social media campaigns designed to honor him.

Mr. Keys reads from “The Alchemist” as his colleagues fight back tears.

Booker High Assistant Principal Retires

Ms. Fair enjoys a luncheon retirement gathering on Friday, June 11.

Booker High School Assistant Principal Sue Fair is retiring this year. She has served Booker High School twice, the first time during the school renovation, which she helped to lead. She was on the administrative team at Pine View School for a few years before returning to Booker High School this year.

Ms. Fair has a reputation on staff for being practical and straightforward; many of her recent duties at BHS have centered on facilities management and participation with the new $22 million theater renovation project. Throughout her tenure with the district, she has remained an ardent supporter of the Booker VPA.

We wish her good health, joy and contentment in her retirement.

New Administrator Assigned to Booker High

Greg Rumph will begin at BHS on July 1.

Assistant Principal Greg Rumph will be placed in the Assistant Principal position. Mr. Rumph is a visual artist with plenty of history in the Booker Schools, and he’s held administrative positions at Riverview High School, Sarasota High School, and Southeast High School.

Signing Off for Summer

The newsletter will take a brief hiatus for summer, but please look for new editions coming the first week in August. You can stay in touch with us by following us on Facebook (@bookervpa).

We at Booker VPA wish our friends and families a happy and relaxing summer break. We look forward to seeing you in the Fall!