By Antonio Del Valle

The first week of City Spotlights is always a complete whirlwind for me, and if it weren’t for the complete support of our entire work family, I’d be buried under sticky notes, dry erase markers and notebooks. We have an incredible number (roughly half) of returning teen leaders from last year, and it’s a pleasure to get to work with them again this year. Having worked as the dance assistant last summer for City Spotlights, I felt right at home at the beginning of the week, and frankly, I felt like I had never left in the first place. I find that the returning teen leaders, myself included, are building off of the success that we found in the 2018 season, and that same success radiates and affects all of our new teens.

One of the biggest success stories of this week was reflected in the personal experience of one of my music students. She was rather shy, as we all are in the first week, testing the waters of our community to see if it was safe to jump in. She made a huge splash in our metaphorical pool as she spit absolute fire when she first presented her rap section for a song we were working on. I distinctly remember the room going absolutely quite as we watched in awe as this wonderful individual came out of her shell and shined for us all to gaze upon. It’s moments like that that constantly remind me of why I’m doing this type of work, as well as how important the continuation of this work is to the success of our arts community as a whole.