Youth Organizations United!
Under the Y.O.U. umbrella, the RCYBE, ACC, CTOC and WVYSO work together to help young artists build skills and reframe their own ideas of what they can achieve! In time, the groups envision interested kids growing in skills, confidence and abilities, as well as invested parents and changed communities.
It started in 1999 when Michelle Simon reached out to Robert Turizziana, Conductor of the West Virginia Youth Symphony Orchestra, for what was to be their first collaboration entitled Ensembles. Three years later they welcomed the Appalachian Children’s Chorus for the original production of Cinderella. For over twenty years the three groups have been committed to the common cause of bringing students together annually to stage wonderfully unique ballet collaborative performances, showcasing emerging artistic talent in the region. In 2019, the Children’s Theatre of Charleston joined the collaborative efforts allowing Y.O.U. to encompass all of the performing arts! Often having over 150 children performing a staged ballet with a live symphony orchestra, actors and singers performing for their peers –other school children — hoping to inspire them and engage them in one or more of the artistic disciplines represented on stage. The collaboration currently represents the Official Youth Ballet, Children’s Chorus, Youth Theatre and Youth Symphony in the state of West Virginia, as designated by the WV legislature. The principals of each organization coordinate schedules and come together for meetings, planning sessions and altering our normal work flow for the important task of bringing these populations of talented young people together to perform for other children. Each are proud of their organization’s individual accomplishments, as well as this unique collaboration designed to let young emerging artists perform with other young emerging artists for young people and adult audience members alike. The enthusiastic positive response, both internally for each organization and externally from our audiences, have kept us working toward this goal, year after year, despite the many fiscal and collaborative challenges. Sharing resources and ideas among the groups has made this joint project successful. Each organization could not pull off a production of this size and scale exclusive of the others.
Growing up in Clendenin, in 2011, Ms. Simon began an outreach program in her childhood community. In 2016 after a flood ravaged the town, artistic programs were needed more than ever. The West Virginia Youth Symphony Orchestra joined in the efforts and began a string program. Now, throughout the academic year, both ballet and string classes are offered. Starting in 2019, Children’s Theatre of Charleston will hold workshops for young aspiring actors. These programs are a way to capture the excitement about performing arts and allow students to begin new artistic endeavors, inspired by the joint ballet productions.