“The most important thing in the world is family and love.” –John Wooden
- Song: “A Little Peace” by Milck. Performed in Live Art Family Finale.
The most exhilarating, amazing, spectacular event took place on June 2nd, 2019. We showed Richmond the power of love and family. This is the extraordinary story of Live Art Family!
Live Art is an acting, singing, and dancing program by SPARC. Live Art is a yearly show that hosts some of the best artists from around the world. These established artists perform with over 200 student performers of all abilities. The idea of Live Art began in 2011 when Erin Thomas-Foley shared a vision for a new and unique inclusive arts program and performance. The first ever Live Art show was held in 2013. Since then Live Art has gone on to become one of Richmond’s most beloved show. Each year, Live Art has a different theme for their show. Past Live Art themes have been TREE OF LIFE, SOUL, BLUE, DREAM, and LOVE. This year marks Live Art’s 6th year and this year’s theme was FAMILY.
In Live Art, students rehearse 9 months for the show. They build relationships with their peers and teachers and they experience the beauty of teamwork and acting. Live Art makes sure that no kid is left out. Everyone has a spot in Live Art and each and every person in the program feels like they belong. Live Art consists of a core curriculum, CARE (Compassion, Acceptance, Respect, and Empathy), that is taught throughout the year. Students are shown that compassion and acceptance have no boundaries, they are shown that empathy can help change lives, and they learn how to respect others. Live Art exemplifies CARE through all their activities and students receive a unique experience that can’t be seen in any other acting programs.
Live Art has truly changed my life forever and that is why I choose to write this post. Each year I experience the beauty and fullness of the program and I have grown to love it. The feeling is hard for me to describe, but when I get on that stage and I perform with my friends and artists, it feels amazing. I feel, in a sense, enlightened, strong, and humbled. I love to show the world the beauty of what we have been working on for so long and hard. Live Art is a means of spreading love, acceptance, and all around goodness. Live Art has given me a chance to make new friends and meet the most incredible people from around the world. Being able to be a part of this program is truly a blessing and I hope to continue being a part of this program for a long time to come. Live Art has created a tight-knit family for all who love to perform.
How My Journey Began
I joined Live Art in 2015. When I was in 3rd grade, I did a 4-week long acting and dancing course from SPARC. One of the SPARC’s teachers suggested I should join the Live Art program, and since then I am part of Live Art. I had no idea of what an incredible program I was getting myself into. I don’t remember much from my first year, but I know I had fun because here I am 6 years later continuing in the program. When I first joined the program I was scared, however, I immediately made friends within the first week of classes and it was amazing. Over the years I have kept many of the friends who stayed with the program and we continue to become closer. After my first show, Live Art Soul, I was hooked. I knew I would want to be part of this program for many years to come.
Live Art changed my life in so many different ways. When I first joined Live Art I never expected it to help me so much in life and my well being. In middle school, I was very shy and quiet. I felt like I didn’t fit in at school. Live Art was there for me during this time, when I needed it the most. Live Art gave me a place where I felt that I belonged. It gave me a safe place that I could be myself and do what I loved, which was acting, dancing, and performing. Live Art was so inviting to me and even when I had had a bad day I could always look forward to going to Live Art. Live Art helped build my courage and confidence when I needed it the most. Now I am able to make friends and be more confident thanks to Live Art.
Live Art Family
This year’s show was based on family. The show delved into the connections between families and the beauty of families. Classes for the show began in September and it all cumulated for our final show which was on June 2nd. Students have a choice to pick and choose the classes they want to take and each class is different. Then in these classes students are taught choreography or anything else they will be performing. Live Art gives opportunities to all students no matter their ability, and that is one reason that I have come to love the program so much. This year I was part of one class and a few specialty pieces. Specialty pieces give extra opportunities to students to perform and try new things. Like always, I enjoyed the process of getting to make friends and getting to work collaboratively and go through the choreography.
The show began with the piece, A Lovely Day, sang by Kori Withers. This was an amazing song to dance to and a great introduction to the main story. This year’s story revolved around a girl, who at the beginning of the show was lost and was trying to find her family, and by the end, she finds her family. The story revolves around how she finds her family with the help of a giant puppet named Friend. Each piece in the show revolves around a member of a family (Grandmother, Mom, Dad, etc.), or the human connection that makes up a family. One of the pieces that I was in, Under Our Skin, sang by Jason Mraz and Joel Rafel was a piece about the human connection and about how everyone, under their skin, is the same. This piece, by far, was my most favorite piece to be in because it represented what I believe is true; that everyone can get along and respect each other.
The goal of Live Art Family was to show the beauty of human connection and how extraordinary family is. It accomplished that by showing that family is supportive, kind, protective, and never leaves your side. The show was approximately two hours long, and at the conclusion of the show, the entire cast of the show entered for the finale to dance alongside the girl and to show that she is no longer alone. The finale was my favorite part to dance to, by far.
After the finale we celebrated. It was pure joy backstage. Months of hard work and persistence had paid off. We had shown the audience compassion, empathy, respect, and acceptance. I like to think that we had inspired all 3,565 people in the audience that night.
Prior to the show, Erin talked to us many times. She encouraged us and described what we were there to do. She told us that we were there to build a community and inspire the audience. One of the things that she said to us, in particular, stayed with me and was inspirational
Before the start of the show, she brought us on the stage and she told us to look at the back row and then said,
“Imagine that there is someone sitting on that back row. Imagine that there is someone who needs your inspiration, kindness, and compassion. Make sure your energy gets all the way back there because you might just change that person’s life.”
What Live Art and SPARC has accomplished
Live Art is changing the world and starting a movement. A movement of love and peace. The program has already created an amazing community in Richmond and that community continues to grow and expand. Live Art is planting seeds into aspiring children and encouraging them to pursue the theatrical arts in a safe, caring, and loving environment. I truly believe that SPARC and Live Art is capable of changing lives and changing the world.
After The Show
After the show, I could still feel the impact of performing on that stage. The breathtaking experience of being with my Live Art family and putting our hearts on stage isn’t something that I easily forget. After watching or being a part of Live Art your life changes forever. Live Art changed my life and it can change anyone’s. After being a part of Live Art, whether it be watching or participating, you are a part of the family.
The Live Art Family
I would like to thank everyone at SPARC for creating such an incredible community.
Learn More About SPARC And Live Art By Visiting The Site Below.
Photos By Jim Hale