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Year-end showcase of youth arts at Civic Center

on December 19, 2009

African dance, junior jazz, chamber music and theater were just some of the many activities performed at the Richmond Civic Center on Tuesday night.

The event showcased the wide selection of classes offered by the East Bay Center for the Performing Arts, a nonprofit organization in Richmond that has trained youth in a variety of arts and traditions for more than 40 years. A supportive crowd of more than 200 proud parents, siblings, grandparents, and teachers filled the seats in front of the stage.

The evening’s opening act set the bar high for the rest of the night. About a dozen youth from the Center’s West African dance class moved in synchronization — from left, right, front, and back, with their heads bobbing to and fro. Before their performance was over, whoops and cheers erupted from the crowd.

Composed of four to six-year-old girls, the pre-ballet class teetered on to the stage dressed in black leotards and pink tutus. The girls sat cross-legged on the floor, then danced up to the front of the stage in pairs. Instructors Nikita Jew and Antoine Hunter led the class in a circle of pirouettes to music similar to that of The Nutcracker.

The Junior Jazz band played “Satin Doll” by Duke Ellington, with the young saxophone player donning a fedora. The Mexican dance class members flared their skirts and showed off their skills to the sounds of Latin guitar music and tambourines. And the Introduction to Animation class played its short clay animation film about how one might discover their gift – through taking classes at the East Bay Center for the Performing Arts.

When introducing the film, Artistic Director Jordan Simmons noted that film runs at 24 frames per second – meaning that the students had to stage 24 shots to complete just one second of film. Indeed, the amount of work the students at the East Bay Center for the Performing Arts put in to produce the film and perform on Tuesday night was evident throughout.

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