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APSU’s CSA Summer Arts Camp unleashes young dancers’ talent

By: Spencer Castleberry August 28, 2023

Students showcase a dance routine at Trahern Theatre during this year's CSA Summer Arts Camp.
Students showcase a dance routine at Trahern Theatre during this year's CSA Summer Arts Camp.

CLARKSVILLE, Tenn. – The Community School of the Arts (CSA) at Austin Peay State University (APSU) closed out this year’s Summer Arts Camp for children ages 8-14 on July 28, and students were able to perform the dances they crafted for the stage. 

The camp features four disciplines of art: theater, dance, ceramics and painting. The three-week camp works with three groups of children (one group per week). APSU professors and instructors guide the students through the camp, and each one teaches the kids about their respective disciplines. 

The attendees of the camp learned and practiced the art of dance, spending much of the week crafting their dances and rehearsing. On Fridays, the children showcased their skills on stage in front of their families. 

Kevin Loveland Jr., CSA coordinator, noted during a performance that the children worked closely with the instructor to create their dances, and also had input on the performance itself. 

"One of the days [the kids] learned about choreography, creating their own dances using a process called chance dance," Loveland Jr. said. "Essentially, you write down movements and put them into a hat. Then they draw from a hat, and it's a dance by chance. You don't know the movements you will do until you draw from the hat. It's a great learning opportunity in choreography." 

During the performances, you could see the enjoyment on the children’s faces as they interacted with each other on stage and danced to the music. 

"We would choose four [dances] and put them together," Maria Gieseking, an 11-year-old attendee, said. "[Then] we would organize it and [make a dance]." 

Gieseking said she had a blast and would love to continue going on stage. 

Eboné Amos, an assistant professor of African American Studies in the Department of Theatre and Dance, was the students’ guide through the art of dance. 

"I'm trying to instill in my students how to be brave," she said. "A lot of them do not have dance experience, but I just want them to be brave enough to try new things and not be fearful of things they may not know how they go because that keeps us from doing anything in life. I hope that my love for dance and how I express myself rubs off on them, that they don't always have to use their words, they can make something they can be proud of, and they can try new things and not be scared to do so." 

Amos has been dancing since she was nine years old, and she hopes that camps and organizations like CSA can continue giving children opportunities to be creative. 

“[I] appreciate CSA. It's about access and opportunity," Amos said. "I didn't get a chance to go to a fancy studio growing up. They weren't close to me and were a little expensive. My parents did what they could to help me. I feel like [CSA] is a great way to give everyone an opportunity to explore the arts and not just those who can specifically afford it." 

In addition to the Summer Arts Camp, CSA offers a variety of art classes for children and adults, from beginning to advanced levels, in the areas of dance, theatre, music, creative writing, and visual art. Registration for Fall 1 classes is open now until Sept. 5, 2023. To learn more about the CSA’s classes and camps, visit www.apsu.edu/csa or email csa@apsu.edu.