Singing is in their souls

Youngsters from middle and high school are testing their singing and choreography skills and learning to collaborate with different age groups at John Burroughs' Summer Performance Workshop 2010.

The three-week course is coordinated by the high school's choir program and culminates today with a show that's open to the public. Funds raised by tickets and concession sales during a pre-show barbecue will go to Burroughs Vocal Music Assn. for the upcoming choir year.

It's not all show preparations, said co-director Sam Saletta, a 2002 Burroughs graduate who went through four years of the choir program.

"There is a lot of emphasis on having fun, and it prepares them for what it's like to be in Burroughs and Burbank high schools' show choirs," he said. "Many of the kids are coming from the middle schools. Our youngest ones are going into sixth grade."

About 55 students are enrolled in the project, and they have been divided into eight groups with members of varying ages, said co-director Jon King, who teaches technical theater classes (sound and lighting) at Burroughs.

The students decide on the music they use and the choreography to fill three to five minutes.

"Some groups are only dancing, and the group doing the most songs, seven, is singing and dancing," King said. "In addition to those eight groups, we are doing a three-song show choir set where everybody is on stage at one time."

The sequence will be of a gospel theme, and one of the songs is "Will You Be There" by Michael Jackson. There will also be some solos and singing ensembles, and comedy skits.

"The summer program is really open to what the kids want to do," King said. "We encourage them to be creative. If there is something really different they want to try, this is the place to do it."

The students have really gotten down to business over the last few days, King added.

"Now that they've memorized the music and learned their choreography, they are focusing on polishing it and making it show-ready," he said.

Funds raised by tickets and concessions at the barbecue go to Burroughs Vocal Music Assn. to support the choir program during the school year. Funds go to competition fees and transportation, costumes, sheet music and part-time guest coaches not on staff, King said.

Students like Grace Williams, 13, an eighth-grader at Jordan Middle School, hope to reach a higher level of show choir in high school.

"I love show choir, so everything is really good for me here," she said.

Although she doesn't plan to make performance her career, she said she may use it in her chosen profession. She hopes to become a nurse.

"I could sing for my patients maybe," she said.

This was the first time Elle Willgues, 14, took the workshop. A sophomore at Burroughs, she said she will be in the advanced show choir starting in the fall. Her group will be doing a medley of songs related to California including "Going to California," by Pink.

"I love the whole performing aspect of it — putting on a show," she said. "And it definitely helps to brush up on the singing and dancing before the school year starts."

Infobox

What: Summer Performance Workshop 2010

When: 4 to 6 p.m. today barbecue picnic in the high school's quad area featuring grilled hamburgers, hot dogs, pizza, Big Poppaz hot and iced coffee drinks, smoothies, shakes and sundaes and show at 7 p.m. in the auditorium

Where: John Burroughs Auditorium, 1920 W. Clark Ave.

Tickets: $10 and $5 for seniors and students

Contact: (818) 209-8143

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