Uncharted Course: The 2017 Summer Showcase
Students of the Harbor’s Performing Arts Academy created and performed an original stage production that gives voice to the hopes, fears, frustrations, dreams, and expectations of adolescence through the lens of social justice.
It is not enough for students of the Harbor’s Performing Arts Academy to demonstrate talent in the “triple-threat” realm of traditional theater (acting, dancing, and singing). To earn and keep a spot on the Academy’s stage, they must also maintain a 3.5 grade point average in their academic studies.
The end result of this rigorous set of requirements and expectations is a troupe of smart, talented, and highly motivated young people who are training their bodies to be agile, their voices to be heard, their artistic spirits to soar, and their minds to be sharp. They are the proverbial triple-threats—plus one.
The Performing Arts Academy puts on several showcases throughout the academic year, including the summer session. Each showcase is the culmination of the Harbor’s S.A.I.L.™ model, which provides not only a quality curriculum in the arts and academic instruction, but also creates a pathway for students to achieve deeper learning and growth.
For a recent performance at the beautiful Teatro del Museo del Barrio in East Harlem, students wrote, directed, and choreographed a production called Uncharted Course. The challenge question that gave rise to the creation of this original piece of musical theater was, “How do I use my artistry to service my community as a youth activist?”
Uncharted Course was developed as a collaboration among the Harbor’s Performing Arts Academy students. Set to popular music and featuring an original script and choreography, this work explores the hopes and dreams—as well as the frustrations and fears—that come with the responsibilities and expectations of adolescence. Performed with an intergenerational student ensemble, Uncharted Course tackles the theme of injustice in its many facets through the cast’s own deeply personal and inspirational stories.
“This is New York,” explains Ms. Chloe McMillan, Associate Director of Dance at the Harbor’s Performing Arts Academy. “People can send their kids to drama and dance schools anywhere in the city, where they’ll get an hour or two of instruction a week, and where hardly anyone will ask or care about that student’s performance at school. Here, our kids work hard every day. They not only love it, they are empowered by it. And they know that if they want to be a part of the Academy, they have to stay on that Honor Roll at school.”
The Boys & Girls Harbor’s Performing Arts Academy is supported, in part, by public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council, and by the New York State Council on the Arts, with the support of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo and the New York State Legislature.