It could’ve been a normal vacation week at a campground in Southern California but it turned out to be a time of creative self expression for three teens from Hawthorne. Following a seven hour drive to Corona, this talented trio began a summer workshop at the headquarters of The Young Americans, which is a performing arts group and college that promotes all areas of music and dance through special programs throughout the world.
Within four long days of learning energetic choreography routines, blended with vocal medleys from over 44 movie themes while being emerged into the midst of 120 kids from ages seven to high school age, these Hawthorne teens found a combination of new friends and renewed inspiration toward their love of performing. With a cast of local workshop participants, these three Nevadans, along with one teen from Colorado, had come together to create an awe-inspiring show that was performed twice on Saturday, driving the audience to several standing ovations.
As musical themes and top characters unfolded into a quick-moving, professional venue, each of the Hawthorne teens had been selected to step onto the stage to perform solo pieces within the show. Alyjah Dotson was cast as Spiderman, performing an astonishing high jump which took the audience’s breath away. This moment was caught by a professional photographer who quickly shared it on the web, capturing the natural dancing ability Dotson expressed.
Sisters, Caitlyn and Ashley Rogers were also center stage in their performances with one sharing an outstanding saxophone solo and the other singing a solo line without hesitation or the slightest hint of stage fright. Clearly comfortable on stage, both shared what a monumental experience the Young Americans had brought them.
As an organization, which is over 50 years old, the early years showed The Young Americans performing on television shows with well-known artists such as Andy Williams, Johnny Mathis and more. Vicki Lawrence from the Carol Burnett Show got her performing start in The Young Americans as well as other well-known artists throughout the years.
Today the group has morphed into a teaching-performing organization, which emphasizes the development of choral and choreography experiences, encompassing a broader view of productions by providing workshops throughout the world. Multiple tours can be running at one time, with a Young American cast spread out in Germany, Japan and England or within America performing in any state coast to coast. With a private college in Corona, Calif. the headquarter office runs all year, booking workshops or arranging specific shows from their cast of talents.
Following a week of costuming, staging, microphones, vocal techniques and plenty of movement, each teen reflected on the importance of the workshop as individuals. Dotson stated that the week was consumed with hard work, energy, emotions and life long experiences. The Rogers sisters agreed that coming out of their comfort zone was a primary lesson, as well as learning to encourage and celebrate the talents of others. One expressed it as “utilizing your personal talent but turning it up about four notches. I was stretched to take my abilities farther, developing my people skills and using teamwork to create a successful show. Meeting new people who were accepting of one another truly built me up with courage and allowed me to appreciate who I can be.” With star quality beaming from each of these teens, it was unanimous that another Young American workshop would be planned for their future.