Singing, acting and dancing is how the campers at R.Evolucion Latina spend their days.
“Here I get to express myself,” says camper Jonathan Varela. “Dance, sing, and basically do everything every kid would like.”
Three years ago, Luis Salgado, a dance captain for the Broadway show “In The Heights,” and other Broadway performers started the summer program. He said he wants children from Latino backgrounds to know they can “dare to go beyond,” which is also the program’s motto.
“I came from Puerto Rico and I didn’t really know musical theater and there were many other things in the air of, ‘you won’t be able to do that,” explains Salgado. “And I had a wonderful teacher in fifth grade that gave me the opportunity to discover arts and that’s how I discovered myself and that’s how I discovered my dreams.”
Now 150 kids from the inner city and of all backgrounds are taught by 50 volunteers over the course of three days.
“It’s really rewarding to come in, even if I am tired or not, to teach these kids and give something back to them, and see them so excited and learn something,” says instructor Michelle Brugal.
“It’s exhilarating to learn about how these people on Broadway, these singers, composers live,” says camper Sarah Salgado.
The camp relies on private donations, and twice a year “In the Heights” donates 30 percent of audience donations to charity.
“Art is just something that should inspire you and you shouldn’t have to pay that much for it, and especially these are kids that are undeserved kids in under-served communities,” says instructor Gabriela Garcia.
The instructors, who are currently performing in shows like “Chicago,” “The Lion King” and “In the Heights,” say the camp can teach kids how to be better performers in all aspects of their lives.
“I’ll compose a song, and by me composing the song, I am teaching you the measurements, and you are adding and subtracting, and I am teaching you math, and then you become the greatest mathematician in the world because you understood that from a different perspective than the regular people,” says Salgado.
Salgado has big plans for the future of the program.
“I want to develop the R.Evolucion Latina dare to go beyond, a school that can go throughout the year and can serve this undeserved population,” he says.
And so for dancing to a different beat, and inspiring young people to do the same, the Broadway volunteers from R.Evolucion Latina are our New Yorkers of the Week.
For more information on the program, go to revolucionlatina.org or call 212-840-8030, extension 276.