Anthony didn’t know any dance moves before participating in the Samba Kidz Summer Program but he introduces himself by saying, “I’m a breakdancer.” His greeting is an indication of the confidence and artistic identity fostered by the Samba Kidz summer camp, which culminated in a final performance at Drum Artz Community Centre.
Other participants are seasoned members of Drum Artz programs. Lia attends Samba Kidz afterschool programs, where she was introduced to samba and steel pan. At the final performance however, she can’t pick just one favourite art form and exclaims that she likes ‘everything!’
Samba Kidz encourages this kind of all-embracing attitude to the arts. Anthony explains, “We do break dancing, stilts, samba and steel pan.” All of these art forms are incorporated into Potluck, the final performance. In Potluck, children, youth, volunteers and professional artists share the skills that they developed during their time at camp. The show starts with an energizing Samba number led by one of the campers then, as the music fades, storytelling owls swoop on stage.
“We are here to tell you a story about an island called Potluck…”
When the island of Potluck is threatened by a storm, samba bunnies, break dancing frogs and steel pan parrots combine their talents to save their home.
Canisia Lubrin, who facilitated theme development, explains that the story originated in the central theme “earth of common threads” that the children identified during discussions. In developing the story Canisia’s goal was to ‘focus on the lived experience of the kids.’ Working together through the arts, the children ‘take what happens at the camp and show it in the performance.’ Canisia confirms that, “It all comes from the kids.” Lia adds that, “We added some lines that had to do with the characters,” and Canisia describes this as the process of ‘all the kids vibing off each other’ to create the finished product.
The Samba Kidz final performance integrates art forms into a magical spectacle of movement, music and storytelling. The scenes become more complex as each child contributes to the collective effort to ward off the storm and save the island. Potluck celebrates the skills of campers of all levels of experience and ends with a finale of music, dance, and even stilts, in which everyone participates.
Drum Artz Canada (DAC) is a registered charity committed to making music and arts programming accessible to all people regardless of age, class, race, (dis)ability or gender. With a range of educational programs headed by professional artists, DAC encourages creative expression, team building, youth leadership and self-esteem.
Emily Macrae is the Neighbourhood Arts Network 2012 Summer Intern