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Home | Tag Archives: el paso isd fine arts

Tag Archives: el paso isd fine arts

Fine Arts Students Stage hit Broadway Show ‘Hairspray’

When it comes to summer musicals and the talented fine-arts students in the El Paso Independent School District, you just can’t stop the beat.

At least not in this year’s production of “Hairspray,” the campy Broadway about love and the end of segregation in 1960’s Baltimore being staged at the historic El Paso High School Theater July 18-21.

The production is part of EPISD’s long-standing summer musical program that in years past has staged hits like South Pacific, May Fair Lady and Annie Get Your Gun. The shows combine the talent of students involved in all areas of the arts.

“The musical is guaranteed to be amazing fun, and you will leave the musical wanting to do those dance steps and sing the songs,” said EPISD Fine Arts Director Phillip Barraza, who choreographed the dance numbers.

The summer musical gives EPISD students and teachers a platform to collaborate in the various disciplines of fine arts from tech and set design to acting, band, orchestra, choir, dance and theater.

“The summer musical, this one in particular, allows students to express their passion while at the same time sending a message,” Barraza said. “The message is left up to the audience interpretation of course, but the bottom line is that it’s all about integration. It’s about accepting who you are, and accepting who you want to be.”

Hairspray is set in 1962 Baltimore and revolves around heavy-set teen Tracy Turnblad, a lover of music who loves to dance and wishes to earn a spot on a famous American Bandstand-like television dance show.

After she earns a spot, she falls in love with the lead dancer Link Larkin and becomes an overnight sensation, all the while pushing for the racial integration of the dance show that until then had not allowed black teens to dance on air.

“This is my first time (in a musical). I’ve never done anything like this,” said Esmeralda Hernandez, who plays Tracy. “I’m working hard to show the character and who she is.”

The 2018 Franklin High graduate also sees the summer musical as an opportunity to meet new friends and interact with other EPISD high-school fine arts students.

“Here it’s not a competition,” she said. “We do this as a group – as a family.”

Recent Coronado High grad Fernando Romero, who plays male lead Link Larkin, looks forward to the summer musical every year. “Hairspray” marks the veteran high school actor’s fourth appearance in a summer production. It’s an experience he plans to build on while studying theater at the University of Texas at El Paso this fall.

“This is an incredible learning experience because we have different directors from different schools throughout EPISD,” Romero said. “It’s such a pleasure to be working with each and every one of them. Each one of them has his or her own different type of experience in the arts and for us to all be here together, all from EPISD, is absolutely incredible.”

Romero also likes playing the male lead in the last summer musical of his high school career.

“Link Larkin is a stereotypical lady’s man,” he said. “He’s surrounded by all the girls. He’s the main attention on the (dance) show, and then here comes this girl Tracy who changes his life completely.”

Romero added: “He begins to see everything differently and it changes the whole perspective of the show and everybody around him. He definitely has a cool, slick jam.”

Story by Reneé de Santos | Photos by Leonel Monroy – EPISD

El Paso ISD Art Students Display Their Works for Visiting Art Schools

EPISD art students clutched their portfolios Tuesday, holding them close to their chests with both excitement and nerves as they waited to meet with the people who could make their educational dreams come true.

The nearly 100 seniors were part of an innovative college fair, the first-ever EPISD Visual Arts Program Recruitment Fair designed specifically for students seeking post-secondary training in the arts.

“Every year we take the kids to the National Portfolio Day, but since it’s out of town we can only take so many students,” Visual Arts Facilitator Rosa Aguilar said. “I thought why not bring the schools to El Paso and give more students the opportunity to show up and benefit from this experience. I am so excited because this is a chance for them to show how talented they are, to sell themselves and get opportunities from the recruiters.”

Students were able to talk to recruiters from schools such as the Paris College of Art, Kansas City Art Institute, Laguna College of Art and Design and the Minneapolis College of Art.

Local and nearby art programs at UTEP, NMSU and the University of New Mexico also sent representatives.

“The schools were very receptive to the idea because El Paso is such a great city, and it’s very unique,” Aguilar said. “They are very interested in seeing what our kids have to offer.”

This is the first time Irvin senior Raven Jones has attended a recruiting fair.

“I was a little overwhelmed at first because I didn’t know what to expect. It’s nice to learn about the colleges individually,” Jones said.

She talked to people from Rocky Mountain College of Art Design and Sul Ross State University before waiting in line for the Paris school.

“It’s the most popular because it’s unique. It’s a chance to go overseas and learn about different cultures, which you can implement into your artwork,” she said. “I was nervous showing my work because they are like my babies, but it’s great seeing other people’s work.”

Austin senior John McBryde cradled a laptop in his arms, waiting for a chance to showcase his digital collage work.

“I think this is an excellent opportunity to expand our horizons and meet people from other places face-to-face,” McBryde said. “It’s a great way to give us students a feel for what school they’d like to attend.”

Irvin art teacher Karen Fortney made sure to coach the students before the event, giving them a confidence boost to show off not only their art but also their personalities.

“None of the students I brought today had ever had this opportunity so it was a little intimidating for them,” Fortney said. “I’m hoping they will have a chance to pursue their dreams and have a better idea what direction they need to go. I think they are going to be really inspired and excited after this.”

The Fine Arts Department hopes the recruiting fair will become an annual event.

“This is first year that we do it so I am really excited because this is something we can do every year,” Aguilar said. “This has the potential to get bigger and create more opportunities for our students.”

 Story and photos by Alicia Chumley – EPISD
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