It was the sights and sounds of the season, along with rhythmic dance, that Southern Illinois University Edwardsville East St. Louis Center for the Performing Arts students graciously presented during the annual holiday performance celebration on Thursday, Dec. 19.
“We love being able to display our students’ hard work and talents during the holiday season,” said Performing Arts Coordinator Jack Williams. “Our students are always eager to entertain their loved ones.”
Proud parents, family and friends assembled in the lobby of Building D at the East St. Louis Higher Education Campus to experience the holiday magic of students from the After School Theater Arts Program (ASTAP).
The concert began with an African celebration of dancers and drummers, and was choreographed by instructor Gerald Babatunde’ Sylla Williams.
Students also twirled and swayed in praise dance and lyrical jazz dance to Whitney Houston’s “Joy to the World” and “I Love the Lord.”
Instructor Esau Toombs led his band in Donny Hathaway’s “This Christmas.” Students played their version of “Jingle Bells” under the direction of guitar instructor Dan Bearden.
Students played “The Lion Sleeps Tonight” on the chimes, which was arranged by Mary Jo Pembrook, PhD, music instructor.
Pembrook’s piano students also played a various Christmas favorites, including “Silent Night” and “Joy to the World.”
The SIUE East St. Louis Center for the Performing Arts has a long, rich history. The legendary dancer, anthropologist, and social activist Katherine Dunham founded the Center for Performing Arts at the SIUE East St. Louis Center in 1964. At its peak in the 1990’s, the East St. Louis Center for the Performing Arts provided year-round instruction to more than 1,000 youth and became a training ground for professional artists of all disciplines. For decades, the East St. Louis Center for the Performing Arts provided performing arts classes to students and community members to develop local talent and to cultivate a love of the arts. Classes often culminated in musical and theatrical productions.
With a focus on empowering people and strengthening communities, the SIUE East St. Louis Center is dedicated to improving the lives of families and individuals – from pre-school through adult – in the Metro East. Head Start/Early Head Start and a charter high school are among the programs that offer the community renewed hope and an opportunity to reach educational, career and life goals. The Center also assigns first priority to encouraging, supporting and improving the educational success of the residents of East St. Louis and surrounding urban communities. The Center provides comprehensive programs, services and training in the areas of education, health, social services and the arts.
Students perform in the SIUE East St. Louis Center for the Performing Arts annual holiday performance celebration.