Creativity in the Time of Covid–Oct. 31, 2021

HOCO 2021–A Week in Pictures

This week was Homecoming Spirit week, a time to unify and celebrate the culture of Booker High School. It was a fantastic, fun week, with spirit dress-up days, a door decorating contest, and a pep rally in Tornado Alley.

And then, of course, there was the Homecoming Game against the Hardee Wildcats. With the cool fall weather descending upon Sarasota, Saturday’s outdoor Homecoming Dance was a hit!

Hermitage Artist Retreat Partners with Booker VPA

The Hermitage Artist Retreat, a multi-disciplinary destination for artmakers to create new works of theatre, literature, visual art and more, has partnered with Booker VPA. The two organizations will work together to create access to world-class artists.

The series, “Hermitage @ Booker,” will bring diverse artists to the Booker High School campus, providing access to students, families, staff, and our community.

The first event is an evening with musician Luke Stewart on Dec. 17 at 5:30 p.m. Stewart is an innovative artist who Downbeat Magazine named “one of the 25 most influential jazz musicians” of his generation in 2020. It will be an honor to host an artist of his caliber on our campus.

Celebrated jazz bassist and composer Luke Stewart is known for his bold experimentation on the cutting edge of musicianship. He shares an improvisatory selection of his work, leads a “jam session” with local artists and students, and discusses his creative process.

The event is free to Booker students with an ID using the promo code STUDENT. Registration is $5 for everyone else. Bring your lawn chairs and enjoy this incredible outdoor performance.

Dancers Enjoy UF/Santa Fe Masterclass

A ballet class delivered through Zoom.

On Oct. 29, VPA Dancers participated in a series of masterclasses delivered through the University of Florida’s School of Theatre + Dance and Santa Fe Community College’s Dance program. They took class in modern, ballet, west African, and Afro-Brazilian. Afterward, they enjoyed a “brown bag lunch” with college professors. As they lunched, they could ask questions and learn more about the degree programs and the colleges.

Dancing Through Career Exploration

Students absorb Augustine’s wisdom.

Students in the Dance Program explore dance-related careers in Ms. Courtney’s Pre-AP dance class, where they dive into the many paths this interest can take them.

This week, they researched the specialized field of dance photography, then met with local artist Sorcha Augustine. A former dancer and figure model, Augustine trained in visual arts at Ringling College of Art + Design. She now trains her lens on theatre and dance performances, and also shoots portraits. Clients include Sarasota Contemporary Dance and Westcoast Black Theatre Troupe.

Augustine dispensed career insights. She shared her own story, her process for capturing energetic, intimate shots, and offered some of the barriers she’s faced as an artist.

Upcoming Events

If you’ve ever wondered what goes on behind the scenes, the FREE Forecast Festival is for you! It’s an invitation to families to see classes and rehearsals in all disciplines, check out our studios and spaces, and witness a performance featuring all disciplines.

From 10-11 a.m., guests will be treated to a self-guided tour of workshops, classes, and rehearsals. At 11 a.m., there will be a short performance and exhibition. On the lineup: numbers from the upcoming Dance Show and Musical (“Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat”), a performance of Category 5, Zephyr, our Jazz Ensemble, chamber orchestra, classical guitar and more.

This is a great event for prospective families, but also for current families or VPA fans curious about the dynamic and unique program offerings in this program of local legend.

Tuning into connectivity in this moment in history is vital. The pandemic and social and political upheaval have forced us through unprecedented isolation. Quarantine, concurrent learning, social distancing, and a fractured political climate have left many feeling less connected than ever.

“Six Degrees of Separation” probes the links between us we may not even be aware of. Through movement, dancers express ideas that may not have linguistic parallels. Featured in this outdoor performance will be ballet, modern, dance from the African diaspora, and hip hop.

Share an evening of inspiring movement that may just leave you feeling a bit more knitted into humanity.

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.