Dear KidsAlive! friends and family,
We hope this email finds you all safe and well. It is difficult coming to grips with the fact that almost every communication today is beginning and ending with the same thought processes: "Stay safe and well!" Wow. I can't honestly remember any time in my life that the world as a whole was exclusively worrying about those two concepts.
We are all finding ourselves in increasingly turbulent times. The last week in particular has been hard for many, as we continue to search for ways to move forward from the corona virus situation through the midst of severe racial tensions, protests, anger, and fear. On a simple walk with our family and the dogs last night I watched with disbelief as no less than 25 police cars pulled one by one into my neighborhood. After turning around and finding places to park facing the entrance, the policemen systematically began getting out of their cars and putting on their riot gear. Within a 15 minute period of time they had all left and headed downtown, lights flashing. My heart sank. As I walked back inside to turn on the news I was greeted by a plethora of vivid images of pain and heartache, including seeing many of my youngest daughter's favorite places in Philadelphia, her home away from home, burn to the ground.
KidsAlive! has long prided itself on being a medium for positive change, reaching out to kids and adults of all abilities, races, backgrounds and experience levels. From day one, our mission was to harness the power of musical theatre to help our students and their families connect with each other, rejuvenate and make a difference, one musical at a time. We feel that we have been successful. We also feel strongly that the world currently needs more of what we do, perhaps more than ever before.
Unfortunately, the current climate we are living in is changing rapidly from day to day, and our plans have been in a constant state of flux. Although the state has continued to move forward with "reopening" plans of recovery from the Corona Virus, information and studies regarding transmission, what is safe and unsafe, remain mixed and confusing. There are more questions than answers.
We have been carefully monitoring not only the Covid-19 statistics as well as reviewing guidelines from the CDC and Oklahoma Arts Council regarding steps to move forward. Even though the state is currently well into the process of re-opening, recommended distancing guidelines for singers, performers and audiences would not allow us to do what we do without compromising our approach to teaching musical theater. We are successful because we challenge our students to support each other, physically and emotionally, to look each other in the eye, to hold each other's hands, and to sing and dance fearlessly side by side. Live theater is all about connections: in rehearsals, on the stage, and in/with the audience. This kind of interaction doesn't happen in masks, 6 feet or more apart (16-18 feet when singing!!!) In addition, the financial reality is that it would be impossible for us to cover the expenses required to produce a fully staged show, or maintain our rehearsal space with these guidelines in place.
Taking all of the factors into consideration, we have made the difficult decision to cancel all plans for summer productions and traditional in-class activities, including the productions of Moana and Into the Woods. We have also requested to stop the buildout and possession of our newly planned space in Capitol Hill until further notice. We feel strongly that these steps are necessary to ensure that we can do our part to keep our students, staff and community safe and healthy, and to avoid further disappointments of cancellations for our students and families. It is our hope that these steps will allow us to maintain the resources of KidsAlive! so that when the time is right, we can move forward safely and effectively towards a brighter future.
We would like to give a special shout out to our cast of Into the Woods, who made a concentrated effort early in the course of the pandemic to audition online with us. They are a stellar group of people and performers and we had already begun to connect with each and every castmember. We are so sad that we will not be able to share them with the community as we planned this summer. We are going to make every effort to be able to move forward with the same cast at a later date, even if it involves some super creative rehearsal plans. In the meantime, please watch our social media for a tribute to these performers and their beautiful contributions to the performing arts in our community.
While we take this pause from traditional programming, we are still working hard to plan and implement new and innovative ways to provide opportunities for our families to continue to connect and enrich the musical theater skills that we know to be so successful at promoting positive life skills. We have over 30 students enrolled in our online KidsAlive! Connections Class which features various yoga, tai chi, qi gong, meditation and other energy building exercises to promote strength and wellness. It's not too late to join us! Chad and Team Haney are currently putting together the first of several inspirational virtual numbers from the musical theater genre featuring recorded performances from our students. We are looking at many other possibilities as well, including additional zoom classes, online musicals, small group classes and gatherings outside which feature dance, American Sign Language, playwriting and more.
We appreciate your continued support as we work to navigate all of this uncharted territory. We want very much to be here as a resource for you as we all keep trying to make sense of the many changes we face daily. We know that in many ways, we will have to work even harder than before to stay connected with all of you, and we are ready! So please reach out to us! We hope that we can all use this time positively, to develop new skills, work on others we haven't had time for, prioritize, and re-boot. Keep your eye on our website, social media and look for emails with announcements of new developments.
We love you all and are eager to be together in person again soon.
Shawna Linck and the KidsAlive! Creative Team
Chad Haney, Dalton Thomas, Wendy Stacy, Ashley Untrauer, Jennie Higgins