Two Scholar-Artists Announced As 2018 YoungArts Winners

On November 29, The National YoungArts Foundation recognized Freedom Martin (Theatre ‘19) and Pierson Talbott (Visual Arts ‘17) as 2018 YoungArts Winners. This in an incredible accomplishment as Freedom and Pierson were selected from one of “the most competitive pool of applications to date” and are among the 171 young artists in the nation that were named Finalists, the organization’s highest honor. They are following the footsteps of YoungArts alumni such as Viola Davis, Josh Groban, Tarell A. McCraney, Doug Aitken, and Kerry Washington.

The National YoungArts Foundation provides winners with a lifetime of educational, financial, and professional development opportunities. From mentorship programs with well renowned artists, to showcasing work at institutions such as The Metropolitan Museum of Art and the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, we’re thrilled for Freedom and Pierson to grow with this amazing network of artists. As Finalists, both scholar-artists have the opportunity to attend the 37th annual National YoungArts Week in Miami from January 7-14. We look forward to following their artistic journeys and cheering them on every step of the way! For more information regarding the National YoungArts Foundation, click here.

Theatre Faculty and Scholar-Artists In Merit’s Into the Woods JR.

On August 19 and 20, the Merit School of Music was buzzing with Sondheim sounds! Seven of our scholar-artists and three ChiArts faculty members were a part of Merit’s wonderfully magical production of Into the Woods, JR. Directed by Theatre Conservatory’s A.J. Wester, alongside ChiArts’ Music and Theatre Conservatory’s Julian Chin as the Music Director and Cat Wilson on Lighting Design, the cast of 22 young artists brought the audience through the hilariously intertwined adventures of fairy tales.

Merit School of Music provides students from all over Chicago the opportunity to achieve their personal and musical potential by removing barriers to high-quality music education. Congrats to the following ChiArts faculty and scholar-artists on a successful run!

A.J. Wester, Stage Director

Julian Chin, Music Director

Cat Wilson, Lighting Design

Jordan Davis as Cinderella’s Mother

Miranda Dianovsky as Jack’s Mother

Michael Poulosophos as Wolf

Daniela Reyes as the Baker’s Wife

Aliah Robinson as Lucinda

Niani Soto as Cinderella’s Stepmother

Joanna Starr Poulos as Little Red Riding Hood

Photos courtesy of Merit School of Music.

Merit’s production of Into the Woods JR. was partially funded by Caerus Foundation, Inc., a grant from the Illinois Arts Council, a state agency, and Shure Incorporated.

INTO THE WOODS JR was presented through special arrangement with Music Theatre International (MTI). All authorized performance materials were supplied by MTI.

 

Outstanding Alumni Working in Admissions, Theatre, and Visual Arts

With our first classes of scholar-artists graduating and pursuing professional development opportunities, ChiArts is thrilled to have hired four outstanding alumni in our Admissions, Theatre, and Visual Arts Conservatories! ChiArts is grateful for the knowledge, passion, and support our alumni community continuously gives back to our faculty and scholar-artists.

Sabina Valenica graduated ChiArts in 2013 and is now working as our Recruitment Coordinator in Admissions. Sabina is currently pursuing a double major at Northeastern Illinois University. Christian Helem and Janyce Caraballo (‘13) have joined our Theatre Conservatory as Teaching Assistants for the Musical Theatre and Stage Production courses. Christian is pursuing a degree in Theatre Performance at the University of Illinois- Chicago and Janyce graduated as a Posse Scholar with a Bachelor’s in Theatre and Music Performance from Denison University. The Visual Arts Conservatory is excited to have hired Moises Salazar (‘15) as a Teaching Assistant for AP Sculpture. Moises just graduated from The School of the Art Institute of Chicago and focuses on painting, ceramics, and fabrications. We look forward to watching these young professionals grow and thrive at ChiArts!

City of Chicago Announces Rising Star Honor Roll

On July 13, Mayor Rahm Emanuel and The Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events announced the 4th Annual Fifth Star Honors! The event celebrates the contributions of four Chicago artistic giants, Common, Jeanne Gang, Kerry James Marshall, and Steppenwolf Theatre Company. Three of our scholar-artists will be honored in the City of Chicago’s Rising Star Honor Roll as well!

The City of Chicago “will recognize 25 outstanding young artists as members of the Rising Star Honor Roll.” ChiArts is proud to announce that Damayanti Wallace (Creative Writing Major) will be honored for Literary Arts, Jayda Perry for Dance, and Freedom Martin for Theatre. These three scholar-artists have shown exceptional leadership and passion within the arts and will be inducted in an awards ceremony at the Chicago Cultural Center on Monday, August 28. For more information, visit www.fifthstarhonors.org.

 

Theatre Majors Experience an Amazing Night of ‘Something Rotten’

On July 18, a group of ChiArts Musical Theatre and Acting Majors had a theatrical experience of a lifetime! Thanks to the generosity of ChiArts Board Member and Broadway Producer, John Yonover, scholar-artists spent an evening with the touring cast of Something Rotten. Before seeing this hilariously amazing show, scholar-artists networked with the cast at a private dinner hosted by Mr. Yonover. Cast members shared stories about their education, experiences, and career highlights. After the dinner, scholar-artists attended the show at the Oriental Theatre and were cackling and cheering throughout the production. One student exclaimed, “I’ve never had a favorite musical, but now Something Rotten is!” Following the show, our students met with the entire cast and asked questions ranging from “How does a swing memorize tracks?” to “How do you support your fellow cast members?” One of our acting majors even received a “mini master class” from Rob McClure (actor in the leading role of Nick Bottom) on how to deliver your lines authentically.

We are so grateful to Mr. Yonover and the cast of Something Rotten for this memorable and inspiring opportunity!  

Generous Donation Allows Theatre Majors to Attend Hamilton

Thanks to the generosity of two ChiArts parents – Jon and Lisa Seda – 54 theatre students attended a performance of Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Hamilton on June 1. The opportunity created such excitement, generating a waiting list of students hoping to catch the chance to see this Tony-award winning production. 

This is one of several ways Jon Seda, an actor known for his roles in Chicago Justice, P.D., and Fire, among others, hopes to give back to the community. With an interest in providing opportunities for youth, Seda hopes to lift economic barriers and provide students with life-altering experiences such as seeing this world-class production. In hopes of furthering his efforts to serve Chicago youth, Seda recently began a non-profit organization, The Boxing Theater Foundation, an idea inspired by his passion and involvement in the sport which began long before his on-screen career and his passion for the arts. The foundation will help expose other non-profit organizations throughout the city of Chicago that encourage and invest in today’s youth through various artistic opportunities and help in creating tomorrow’s Champions “One Round at a Time.”

 

ChiArts Welcomes Annie Calhoun as the New Theatre Department Head

We are thrilled to welcome Annie Calhoun as our new Theatre Department Head. She was a founding teacher at ChiArts and has a deep love for the school’s mission. She will succeed Rob Chambers, our Founding Theatre Department Head, who is moving to Arizona to lead the theatre department at Arizona School for the Arts.

Ms. Calhoun holds degrees in education and theatre. She returns to Chicago after five years teaching, directing and performing in Los Angeles. In LA, Ms. Calhoun taught and directed at the Professional, Collegiate (USC), and High School (LA County HS for the Arts) levels; she also founded an inner city theatre program for middle schoolers in South LA. She is a playwright whose pieces have been performed on stages all over Los Angeles and an actor whose work ranges from theater and film, to improv and stand up comedy.

A Chicago native, she is rooted in our values of play, ensemble, high standards and creative new work. The breadth and depth of her expertise in education and theatre offer a vast array of skills from classroom management and facilitating diversity, equity & inclusion to building ensemble among students and staff, and measuring student growth outcomes. Ms. Calhoun will begin her tenure in the fall for the 2017-18 school year!

Justin Gunn and Steven Cooper, students at ChiArts, join Good Day Chicago to talk about their new film “Bound.”

Justin Gunn and Steven Cooper, students at ChiArts, join Good Day Chicago to talk about their new film “Bound.”

The film follows the diverging lives of two African-Americans growing up in Chicago. Cooper and Gunn offer a positive alternative to life on the streets – arts education. As Cooper notes in the interview, “…Simple things like opportunities and exposure to different artistic lifestyles may be something that can get them out.”

 

Joshlyn Lomax Named Rising Star

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Joshlyn Lomax (Musical Theatre, ’18) and Mayor Rahm Emanuel

ChiArts’ very own Joshlyn Lomax has been named the “Rising Star” for this year’s Fifth Star Awards, hosted by the Department of Cultural and Special Affairs! Joshlyn received her award and perform before an audience of stars and artistic luminaries at Jay Pritzker Pavilion at Millennium Park on Wednesday, September 14th at 7:00 PM.

The Fifth Star Awards celebrate Chicago’s creativity and recognize institutions and individuals who have made significant contributions in arts and culture. This year’s honorees include Buddy Guy, Victor Skrebneski, Jackie Taylor, Carlos Tortolero, and The Second City. After their meeting last week, Mayor Rahm Emanuel said, “Talented young artists like Joshlyn are the reason Chicago has become a global destination for the arts, and suggest that the future is bright for our city.”

Click here for more information on Joshlyn and the Fifth Star Awards.