By Emily Garvie, Executive Director

The excitement of capturing your child’s first experience on stage: a priceless moment from our May 20 showcase. Photo credit: Robyn Navarro. 

On May 20, families and friends packed the Brava Theater in San Francisco’s Mission District. They came to celebrate the 86 young performers taking the stage that night. From preschool tots to older teens, these artists performed their own original compositions in dance, music, and spoken word/poetry, sharing what they had learned over a year of residency classes with Performing Arts Workshop artists.

It was the Workshop’s fourth annual Student Showcase, and my first as executive director. Photo evidence confirms that I was grinning from ear to ear the entire evening. How could I not? The Brava, itself a work of art, positively hummed with the preshow excitement of performers and their families mingling and chatting over food in the lobby. And that’s to say nothing of the show itself, which embodied the audience-performer connection at its best—a two-way flow of powerful energy and warm appreciation.

Since that night, I’ve been thinking a lot about what it means for our young artists to take to the stage for the first time in their lives, to be in the rapt gaze of an audience. What it means for them to learn new skills during the school year, to practice (and practice and practice) for that one sweaty-palmed moment of performance that’s over before you even know it.

To be in the spotlight.

That moment reveals to us the value of what we are able to bring forth into the world. We see ourselves and our power with a new clarity, and a spotlight also makes us visible to others on the soul-deep level that art allows.

Next year, our artists will be focusing directly on process toward performance, harvesting the fertile ground that is preparing for performance, from creative spark to spotlight.

The importance of being seen—and feeling seen—simply cannot be overstated.

Toward the end of the show, center stage, in the spotlight, one young poet Cedrica Hampton called out the importance of being seen in her spoken word anthem:

Attention all girls of color, we are not invisible.
I see you.
& I hope one day you can see her too.