From high-energy hip-hop dancing to the elegant sounds of violins, Memorial Hall in Over-the-Rhine was filled with entertainment Thursday evening, May 22, as 115 students performed music and dance routines at the ninth annual FamiliesFORWARD Musical Arts Concert.
A dozen students even made their own instruments—frame drums and berimbaus—and performed a percussion arrangement under the direction of instructor Charles Perdue.
For the second straight year, Kathy Wade, a twice Emmy-nominated producer and award-winning jazz entertainer, as well as co-founder of Learning Through Art Inc., served as mistress of ceremonies for the concert, keeping the audience engaged with the students.
The pre-kindergartners-through-sixth-graders—from Bond Hill Academy in Bond Hill, Carson School in West Price Hill and Hays-Porter School in West End—are all part of an After-School Program conducted by FamiliesFORWARD, a nonprofit United Way agency partner founded in 1875. The students performed for several hundred parents, grandparents, and other relatives and supporters.
The concert led off with Bond Hill ballroom dancers performing the Cha-Cha Charlie and Hays-Porter students dancing to the music of “Shake Your Groove Thing,” led by Bud Walters Ballroom Dancing instructors. They were followed by the percussion students from all of the schools.
Hip-hop dancers from each school then performed to songs such as “School Swag,” “Baddie,” “Fly Barbie” and “Nae Nae” under the direction of Steve Irwin of the Cincinnati Ballet.
After a brief intermission, the sounds of about 30 violinists filled the hall, playing a range of music, including “Hot Cross Buns” to “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star” to “Ode to Joy.” Director Jennifer Green-Hatcher presented sixth-graders, who will graduate to the high schools next year, with medallions at the end of their performance.
The strong beat of African drums closed out the program, with Bond Hill students performing the Lamba dance; Carson dancers performing to the song “Funga Alafia”; and Hays-Porter students performing the Manjani dance. The young dancers, taught by instructors from Asili Museum & Institute, dressed in traditional African clothing, providing colorful renditions of traditional African performances.
“The kids did a fantastic job,” FamiliesFORWARD Executive Director/CEO Deborah Allsop said. “They have been learning these routines for weeks. Some of them were in two or three performances, so they really had their work cut out for them. The After-School Program provides these children with learning opportunities beyond that classroom that they can take with them throughout life. It was a fun-filled evening.”
—Bill Ferguson Jr.
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