WORCESTER – Billed as an “engaging, inspiring, empowering event for girls to come out, have fun with their friends, share experiences, experience new things, enjoy dinner at a theatre themed buffet, and a few other surprises,” TEEN Girls Night Out took place at the Hanover Theatre and Conservatory for the Performing Arts on Friday, June 14.
The night, co-sponsored by Art Reach and Ladies Night Out Worcester, brought together girls between 12-17 to be inspired and learn the basics of dance, music, performance, and fashion, taught by Conservatory faculty members such as award-winning opera singer Jane Shivik, Ballet Arts Worcester founder and director Jennifer Agbay, and actor, director, playwright, and educator Sharon Hart.
The idea for the night came about when Art Reach founder Darcy Schwartz teamed up with Ladies Night Out Worcester organizer Allison Hale and Meghan Montaner, Director of Education at the Hanover Theatre.
“I’ve been seeing [Darcy’s] posts about the girl’s nights she’s been hosting, and she’s done classes here, so this seemed like the natural next step,” says Montaner. “There’s something really special about a group of girls being able to get together and have a night just to themselves. And I thought what a cool thing to be a part of…girls are unique and special, and they think about things in ten different creative ways.”
Schwartz, through Art Reach, is a sponsor of the Ladies Night Out Worcester events at the Sprinkler Factory (where local business women get together to network and socialize), so Hale also saw an opportunity to “provide something for teen girls. There are plenty of events designed for little kids, and girls 18 and up have their own things. But for teenage girls, it’s not like they can go hang out at Greendale Mall these days.”
The night started with a tour of the theater, led by Educational Assistant Kelly Rourke, where the girls got a lesson on the history and architecture of the building. Afterwards, they had a buffet dinner in the ballroom, where the evening’s mentors sat with the girls, introduced themselves, discussed their backgrounds, and gave the girls a chance to ask questions and share their own experiences.
Written “conversation starter” questions were provided for everyone at their tables, however none of them were needed, as they all seemed eager to participate. Following dinner, they split into groups and went down into the conservatory for 25-minute “rotations” to allow every girl there to participate in all of the activities.
Shivik, a frequent soloist with Keith Lockhart and the Boston Pops, as well as the Massachusetts Symphony Orchestra, led the vocal workshop. There, they worked on vocal basics such as breathing technique and scales, and left with their own sheet music to practice at home. Agbay, who’s production of the Nutcracker takes place at the Hanover every year and has served on the faculty of the Boston Ballet School, led the girls in various dance exercises and techniques. There was also an improv basics class led by Hart, and the girls learned how to make paper flowers with local artists Gabriele Goszcz and Michelle Sarkisian.
At the end of the night, everyone went back up to the ballroom for closing, and raffles were held for a 10-week fashion class scholarship at Art Reach, as well as vocal lessons from Shivik.
This was the second event in this series of TEEN Girls Night Outs, and Schwartz has said she definitely plans for more.
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