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Start acting like it's summer: Sheldon offers theater, dance camps

New and familiar faces will take center stage when the Sheldon School for the Performing Arts presents its annual summer theater and dance camps and workshops.

A new instructor will be teaching the two theater activities in June and August, while Shoreline Dance and the James Sewell Ballet will work with young people at dance camp and workshop in July and August.

The performing arts school is undergoing some reorganization for fall and adding Red Wing Community Education as a partner, Sheldon Theatre Director Sean Dowse said.

For the summer months, the activities that have been successful for the past several years will continue in much the same style.

Theater activities

Pamela Larson of Stockholm, Wis., is the new instructor for Theatre Camp June 17-22 at the YMCA's Camp Pepin and for the Summer Theatre Workshop Aug. 6-17 at the Sheldon.

Larson, an independent theater artist and educator, taught theater arts for 10 years in St. Paul public schools.

Three years ago she and her husband moved to Stockholm and began getting involved in the local arts scene -- particularly the Widespot Performing Arts Center. She has taught acting classes and directed a show there and currently is the producer/director of a film for the Flyway Film Festival.

Two years ago, Larson teamed with folk singer/guitarist/songwriter Bill Cagley at the Sheldon's weeklong resident camp on Lake Pepin. He repeated in 2011 but she had a conflict. They are teaming up again this season.

Students in fourth grade and up will again experience the complete process of creating a stage production. That show will be performed at 7 p.m. Friday of camp week at the Sheldon Theatre.

Their first day at camp will focus on games, songs and brainstorming ideas for a theme, Larson said. Writers who are in residence at the Anderson Center at Tower View will help the young people develop their ideas.

"We really want them to take ownership," she said.

Campers will work in groups to create vignettes and characters. Cagley will work with them to create original music for the show.

"The focus will be on the music, the acting and the story," Larson said. The students also will be introduced to sets and props, costumes and other technical aspects of theater production.

Students also will participate in traditional Y camp activities. Registration is through the YMCA.

This will be Larson's first involvement with the two-week theater workshop. Students in grades 4 to 12 will come to the Sheldon from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Friday to learn a short play that they will perform on the final Friday.

They will learn about costumes and technical aspects of theater, but the focus will be on performing, "kind of like a repertory theater," Larson said. The show will have some music and dance, too.

Registration for the workshop is through Red Wing Community Education.

Dance activities

Two dance camps are scheduled at the YMCA camp, July 22-27 and July 29-Aug. 3. Both will culminate in evening performances at the Sheldon Theatre.

Shoreline Dance instructors will work with young people entering grade 6 and older. Registration is through the YMCA.

Summer Dance Intensive Workshop will take place July 30 to Aug. 10 at the Shoreline Dance Studios, 133 Hedin Ave. The activity is for intermediate to advanced students.

Professional dancers from the James Sewell Ballet will lead classes in ballet, modern dance, pilates, improvisation, composition, dance history and dance in film. Hours are from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily.

Instructors will include Sewell, the company's artistic director; Jill Patterson, who has a master's degree in modern dance; and Julie Tehven, who blends classical ballet with modern dance.

Registration is through Community Education; people also may call the Sheldon for information.

Fall plans

Some changes are coming to the Sheldon School for the Performing Arts, Dowse said. "We are looking at a new structure going forward," he explained.

In collaboration with Red Wing Community Education, the Sheldon is looking at ways to attract more students and more contributed income for the school.

"We had a price barrier," Dowse said. "We want more kids to participate," so officials are looking at various school models, focusing on configuration and class structure. "We're in the planning phase."

The Sheldon has collaborated with Red Wing schools through a joint powers agreement and focused on two activities -- the high school musical and the Arts Alive stage show.

Under a less formal new structure, Dowse said, Community Ed would be a new partner. That organization coordinated Arts Alive this year, he said, and the arrangement worked well.