Shakespeare -- with hip-hop

Students will attend the two-week camp free of charge.
YOUNGSTOWN -- It's inspired by the creative genius of Shakespeare, but backed by a hip-hop beat.
They call it urban ballet and some Youngstown youths will demonstrate it as part of their experience this week at Shakers Performing Arts Camp, sponsored by the Boys and Girls Club.
The ballet will be at 7 p.m. Friday at the Boys and Girls Club on Oak Hill Avenue.
There are 17 dancers, including two boys, in the clinic. Three more children are involved with the technical production, including sound and costumes.
"Our goal is to give inner-city youth a way to creatively express themselves," choreographer Laiona Weaver said. "Not only does it allow children a way to express themselves, but it helps to build self-esteem, integrity and confidence."
"Shakers is really fun because I like to dance and everything that we are doing. It's a great opportunity and a really good show," said 12-year-old dance captain Aja Glover.
The free camp is taught for two weeks. Mornings are spent teaching technique. Pupils attend classes in ballet, jazz, modern, hip-hop and African dance. Afternoons are used for rehearsals.
Returning to roots
Doors open at 6 p.m. Friday for the Shakers performance of Sanfoka, an urban ballet.
Sanfoka is an Adinkra word from the African nation of Ghana. The English translation is "returning to your roots, recapturing what you've lost and moving forward."
There will be three pieces to the ballet, which is a history lesson through music and movement.
The first piece is The Middle Passage and tells the story of how blacks came to America, slavery and the black church. It will also explore the Harlem Renaissance. The dance styles will be African, modern and jazz.
"A Soul Lost" is the second piece, which tells the story, through jazz, of a child who leads a life of self-destruction.
Children in the clinic will choose the song and choreograph the third piece, which is hip-hop, on their own. They will also decide what the theme should be.
Inspired by Shakespeare
Shakers Performing Arts Camp is located in Springfield, Mass. Weaver and Shawanda Curry created the camp five years ago.
The name Shakers come from Weaver's love of Shakespeare, which she discovered in her youth. She often teaches clinic in which Shakespeare is presented to youths through hip-hop music and dance.
"We want to expose children to the arts without it being a financial handicap for their families," Weaver said.
The two met at Alabama State University and attended Brandeis University together, obtaining master's degrees in fine arts.
This is their first clinic in Youngstown, but they hope to return next summer. Curry's family is from Youngstown. Although she grew up in the Washington, D.C., area, she spent all of her breaks from school in Youngstown.
"This is our way of giving back to the community," Curry said.
Both are working as professional actresses in New York City, on top of their Shakers Performing Arts Camp activities. They take time off in the summer to travel and reach out to children in urban areas and teach performing arts.
Weaver and Curry will return to Youngstown next summer for another clinic.
"We are really looking forward to next summer. We're really grateful to work with the Boys and Girls Club," Weaver said.
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