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Stepping 101 Recap

Students of ACT's Stepping 101 class in action
Students of ACT's Stepping 101 class in action

"WE ARE ENERGETICS!" chanted Stepping 101 students as they entered our 30th Annual WE ARE ALL Auction. Led by Teaching Artist Darius Colquitt, students proudly demonstrated their enthusiasm for the traditional form of percussive dance. Darius is a choreographer and performer who taught students about the cultural roots of Stepping. Stepping is a high-energy type of choreographed dance that creates complex rhythms and sounds by combining a mixture of footsteps, spoken word, and hand claps. 


"It's awesome. The moves remind me of Broadway musicals, like Fiddler on the Roof," commented one student during rehearsal. "I really like it."


Students learned how to use stomps, claps, and chanting to help elevate the energy in the room. Darius choreographed a routine for them to perform during ACT's auction on 11/7. 

The students practiced hard to memorize the moves. Darius even created a custom soundtrack for the performance!


To kick things off, students were tasked with coming up with a name for their step group: the ACT Energetics. Over the course of the program, students developed their coordination, their spirit, and their cooperation, coming together as a team as they prepared for their big performance. Thanks to all of their hard work, the students received roaring applause and a standing ovation from our auction guests! Thank you to Darius for helping bring stepping to ACT, and thank you to our stepping students for putting on such a great performance!

Mural Memories Recap

Mural Memories action shots
Mural Memories action shots

This fall, ACT students made a big impact on our brand new studio space with help from Teaching Artist Hannah Berry. Hannah is a talented artist, muralist, and the owner of Lions & Rabbits Gallery. With her guidance, students in our Mural Memories class collaborated to design, craft, and paint two murals that were installed in the lobby of the ACT studio.


The murals contained abstract designs that represent things that were important to students, including food, art, making friends, and working together to get a lot done. "Collaboration is number 1," explained a student during the grand unveiling of the murals at the end of the program.


Students began the mural-making process by coming up with an artist statement for the project. The statement reads, "We, as a team, collaborate on a piece of art. We are communicating about our favorite memories so others can see it and learn about ACT!"

Students then began making collages out of construction paper depicting some of their favorite things, including pizza, football, and flowers.


Those shapes were cut out and rearranged to make two brand new compositions containing contributions from every student. Working as a team to accomplish this goal helped our Mural Memories class create two unique, beautiful murals that are now a part of the ACT studio.


This Mural Memories program also featured guest artist Brian Lacey, a muralist from Detroit. Brian was commissioned by LIFEWTR to help brighten the ACT studio with a custom mural for our wheelchair ramp as part of LIFEWTR's "Canvas for Change" project. Not only were students able to talk to Brian about his work as a professional muralist, but they also got to see the progress and process of his mural inside the ACT studio. Many thanks to Brian and Hannah for helping to guide and inspire students. Thank you to our Mural Memories class for creating art for the ACT studio!

WE ARE ALL Auction Recap
WE ARE ALL Auction
WE ARE ALL Auctio rainbow mural

Thanks to the efforts of our donors, partners, students, staff, and volunteers, we were able to host a magical 30th annual auction this fall. For months leading up to the event, the new ACT studio was filled to the brim with generous donations to be auctioned off, including gift cards, jewelry, signed basketballs, and many beautiful paintings. Students, staff and other community members painted hundreds of 2x2" works of art to complete a collaborative art piece that was borrowed for our event photobooth and will soon be installed in the ACT Studio. Thanks to everyone’s dedication, cooperation, and hard work, we were ready to party by the time guests started arriving on November 7th. 


The night was filled with food, friends, family, music, and more art (of course!). Guests were treated to valet parking by Ellis Parking. Teaching Artist Daine Hammerle and ACT student Drew provided music from their DJ station while guests mingled and bid on items in our silent auction. A delicious strolling dinner was provided by YoChef catering, serving up ahi tuna and fried pork dumplings. Guests also enjoyed whimsical cake pops from Flavorful Pound Cakes & Treats during our live auction, while our auctioneer Greg Bator kept the audience on its toes with his enthusiasm.

While things stayed mostly low-key during the silent auction, the event was kicked up a notch by a stepping performance from the ACT Energetics, led by Teaching Artist Darius Colquitt. Students from our Stepping 101 course demonstrated spirit, personality, and TONS of energy in their choreographed performance, showing us the amazing things practice and teamwork can accomplish. 


A big theme of our WE ARE ALL Connected 2019 Auction was community, demonstrating how we can accomplish bigger things when we’re working together. Not only were many of the art pieces in our auction collaborative—including the mural of monochromatic squares—but this year, as a community we were able to raise $95,000 to help further ACT’s mission of inspiring courage and creativity through art. We could not have done this without you and your support! Many thanks to everyone who helped make this magical night a success!

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