Harvard Westlake Outreach Performers put on a variety show at local middle school St. Martin in the Fields on Feb. 9 and at the Jewish Home for the Aging on Feb. 10.
HWOP is a student-run club that creates and performs variety shows at schools and old age homes. St. Martin in the Fields had its art funding cut, so the club came to put on a show with acts such as singing, dancing and reciting poetry.
The St. Martin show was Valentine’s Day themed so many of the poems and songs were about love.
Club members said they enjoy the outreach aspect of their work and how they can positively influence the lives of others.
“What first got me involved was that a lot of seniors in my improv group were doing it and they said it was really fun,” Nicole Bahar ’18 said. “But definitely after doing the first show, I really loved how it felt to work with kids and to perform with the kids, so that is why I keep doing it.”
Participants also said that they appreciate the opportunity to combine their love of art with community service.
“It was an amazing experience and I love to see how much happiness the arts can bring to the children,” Jake Schroeder ’20 said.
Members of HWOP also lead arts and crafts and improv workshops, which allow them to interact directly with their audience. At the St. Martin show, the students led the kindergarten and first grade class in an arts workshop where they decorated hearts with things they loved. The hearts were than placed on a board that the class kept.
“My favorite part was the workshop afterwards,” Nicole Bahar ’18 said. “I was with fourth and fifth graders, and we did a dance party and played limbo and freeze dance and a dance off. It was a lot of fun.”
Members said that they appreciate the flexible structure of the club and that it is one of the reasons they are able to effectively hold many performances.
“I think there is a better sense of communication between the leaders and the student participants in the club,” club member Angel Hoyang ’18 said. “I think that overall, the atmosphere is a little more relaxed but that’s good for this kind of club where we know what we are doing. We are having fun in a way that we can let other people have fun, which is what the club is about.”
Students said they are planning on holding performances later in the year and hope to continue doing community service through art.
“It’s kind of great to combine performing arts with outreach,” Bahar said. “And it’s just a great way for the kids at Harvard-Westlake and the kids in the arts community to get closer, in addition to helping out our community and showing kids the importance of arts.”