Letters 11-23-2015

Cheering From Petoskey While red-eyed rats boil fanatically up from the ancient sewers of Paris to feast on pools of French blood, at the G20 meeting the farcical pied piper of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue thrusts a bony finger at the president of the Russian Federation and yells: “liberté, égalité, fraternité, Clinton, Kerry--Obamaism!”

The Other Mothers And Fathers Regarding the very nice recent article on “The First Lady of Yoga,” I have taken many classes with Sandy Carden, and I consider her to be a great teacher. However, I feel the article is remiss to not even give acknowledgement to other very important yoga influences in northern Michigan...

Drop The Blue Angels The last time I went to the National Cherry Festival, I picked the wrong day. The Blue Angels were forcing everyone to duck and cover from the earsplitting cacophony overhead...

Real Advice For The Sick In the Nov. 16 article “Flu Fighters,” author Kristi Kates fails to mention the most basic tool in our arsenal during Influenza season... the flu vaccine! I understand you might be afraid of being the victim of Jenny McCarthyism, but the science is there...

Keeping Traverse City in the Dark Our environment is our greatest asset. It sustains our lives; it drives our economy. We ignore it at our peril. Northern Michigan Environmental Action Council (NMEAC) has submitted letters of concern to both the city commission and planning commission regarding the proposed 9-story buildings on Pine Street. We have requested an independent environmental assessment with clear answers before a land use permit is granted...

All About Them Another cartoon by Jen Sorensen that brings out the truth! Most of her cartoons are too slanted in a Socialist manner, but when she gets it correct, she hits the nail on the target! “Arizona is the first state to put a 12-month lifetime limit on welfare benefits.” That quote is in the opening panel... 

Unfair To County Employees It appears that the commissioners of Grand Traverse County will seek to remedy a shortfall in the 2016 budget by instituting cuts in expenditures, the most notable the reduction of contributions to various insurance benefits in place for county employees. As one example, the county’s contributions to health insurance premiums will decrease from ten to six percent in 2016. What this means, of course, is that if a county employee wishes to maintain coverage at the current level next year, the employee will have to come up with the difference...

Up, Not Out I would like to congratulate the Traverse City Planning Commission on their decision to approve the River West development. Traverse City will either grow up or grow out. For countless reasons, up is better than out. Or do we enjoy such things as traffic congestion and replacing wooded hillsides with hideous spectacles like the one behind Tom’s West Bay. At least that one is on the edge of town as opposed to in the formerly beautiful rolling meadows of Acme Township...

Lessons In Winning War I am saddened to hear the response of so many of legislators tasked with keeping our country safe. I listen and wonder if they know what “winning” this kind of conflict requires or even means? Did we win in Korea? Did we win in Vietnam? Are we winning in Afghanistan? How is Israel winning against the Palestinians? Will they “take out” Hezbollah...

Home · Articles · News · Features · Take It From The Top
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Take It From The Top

Kristi Kates - August 1st, 2011
It’s not often that youthful students have a chance to work with a Broadway director on their theatrical skills, but that’s what’s in store for kids participating in the Take It From the Top (TIFTT) workshops this summer at the Traverse City Opera House.
Poised to offer aspiring musical theater performers a wealth of personalized training and experience in music, dance, and theater, the TIFTT workshops, taught by Broadway professionals and helmed by director Paul Canaan, are enriching and focused, exposing their students to many different facets of on-stage life.
Currently, the workshops are limited to those aged 10 to 18; a teachers’ workshop took place in East Lansing, but that idea has yet to be developed in Traverse City, nor have adult theater workshops. But for the youthful students who are fortunate enough to be able to enroll, it’s a chance to see what the Broadway life is really all about.

“We try to maximize the students’ experiences with our faculty,” Canaan explains, “we usually begin a workshop with a vocal warm-up with the whole group, and then we split into smaller groups and dance in one space, while another group works on vocal material. Then the two groups switch so that they get both classes.”
One-on-one solo coaching is also included through the week (“so students can work on their own material,” Canaan says), and a broad range of both classic and modern musical theater composers and plays are referenced throughout, so performers can get the Broadway experience from the ground up.
“We touch on Fosse, Rodgers and Hammerstein, Sondheim, Rent,” Canaan says, “musical theater encompasses a huge variety of themes and styles.”
TIFTT got its start at the Wharton Center at Michigan State University (as part of their “Artist in Residency” program), a program known as Take It From The Top is quickly becoming a favorite returning event for Traverse City, partnering with the Old Town Playhouse for classes during the day, and performing their recitals at the Traverse City Opera House.

Whether students are just looking to have fun with on-stage arts, improve their performances in local productions, or aim at the bigger footlights of Broadway or national stages, Canaan says there’s something for everyone - but the program does also have a great record of success as far as giving performers the confidence and connections to help get their dancing feet in various professional and college-level doors.
“We’ve had a lot of students stay in touch with our casting directors, and get auditions in New York,” Canaan enthuses, “I actually sent a video of a boy from Traverse City to the casting director of Billy Elliot (the Broadway musical), and she was thrilled to see all of the talent in Michigan.”
“We also have a lot of students get into great musical theater college programs,” he continues, “which I love seeing, as well.”

Canaan’s rewards are, he explains, in seeing new talents gain confidence, and in working with new instructors, as well, which he explains can add a whole new level of enthusiasm to the program itself.
“I’m bringing a new team of teachers into the workshops (for 2011),” he says, “which is always fun when you have some of the same students. And I’m very excited that we get to perform at the Opera House in Traverse City - it’s one of my favorite cities to work in. My favorite part about the workshops week is seeing the growth throughout the week. A lot of our students come to the program not knowing what to expect, and nervous about working with theater professionals.”
“But by the end of the week,” he says, “they’re on stage singing and dancing and taking risks fearlessly. I love that.”

The Take It From The Top workshops begin on August 2. For more information and to sign up, visit http://www.cityoperahouse.org/takeitfromthetop.php
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