Students perform at Multicultural Learning Center assemblies

Leo Saperstein

The Harvard-Westlake Outreach Performers (HWOP) club has transitioned to a virtual medium to accommodate for COVID-19 restrictions, performing for the first time this school year at online Multicultural Learning Center (MLC) assemblies Jan. 25, 2021.

HWOP has shifted toward Zoom performances and has worked to establish the virtual Hamilton Club for middle schoolers at the MLC, which are set to recur each Monday.

Internal coordinator of HWOP’s leadership team Alon Moradi ’21 said there have been considerable changes to HWOP’s conventional plan.

“We traditionally perform at St. Martin’s Elementary School in Studio City and the Jewish Home for the Aging, but St. Martin’s closed last year, and we have since been collaborating with the Multicultural Learning Center,” Moradi said. “Our adjustments for this year included adapting many of our performance mediums to a virtual space, either prerecorded or live.”

Moradi said the new Hamilton Club at MLC will function as a way for students from the Multicultural Learning Center to connect with HWOP members through virtual workshops.

“In this club, students will learn about Lin Manuel Miranda’s Hamilton through the lens of social justice,” Moradi said. “In addition, students will learn songs and versions of the dances from the Broadway show in addition to studying the plotline and breaking down the lyrics.”

Moradi said the HWOP has largely retained its goals from last year.

When asked about HWOP’s goal for this year, Moradi said much will remain the same, despite the change in circumstance.

“The goal of this club is to spread the joy and opportunity the arts can bring through the power of education and cultural exchange,” Moradi said. “Whether teaching workshops at elementary schools or performing holiday songs at elderly homes, HWOP seeks to use art as a means of connection.”

Faculty Advisor Yutopia Essex said in an email there have been unforeseen benefits in moving towards an online form of performance outreach.

“When we performed in person at MLC, we were only able to meet the middle school students (60-80 students max),” Essex said. “However, because everything is virtual, we were able to perform for about 245 students who loved the show (the chat was on fire)! It also alleviates travel time and time that would be missed in the HW student’s classroom.”