The night began with a first act designed to showcase the talent of the 48 traveling Young American performers, with music from places like Africa, Russia, and Ireland, and from decades past as well as from today.
Featured dances included tap, samba, hip-hop, ballet, jazz, and swing, to name only a few.
The second half of the show was designed to showcase the talent of Macon County's local children. In solos, groups, and giant ensemble numbers that filled the stage to capacity, Lafayette kids' talent showed. “It was truly a pleasure working with each and every student from Lafayette and the surrounding area,” said Jordan Mantey, Young Americans Associate Director.
“They are so incredibly talented; the kids learned the show in only ten hours. The best part was to see them exceed even their own expectations and support each other in the rehearsal process.”
Arts Council President Nancy Doss made a glowing report of those that pitched in to make the event possible, beginning with grants from the Education Foundation here in Macon County, the Tennessee Arts Commission, and those corporate sponsors who keep the Arts Council up and running.
“There were also families who offered to contribute to this particular event,” said Doss, “so that any child who wanted to go and needed funding could go. Ninety percent of the children who went accepted some kind of financial help. Thirty-six of the kids were fully paid. The Arts Council also paid for lunches a few of the days, because we didn’t know if the kids could all get back home for lunch break and make it back.”
Doss also shows gratitude to Macon County Junior High School Principal Bobby Bransford, for allowing the students to use the facilities at the junior high.
“Mr. Bransford offered the school himself, when I approached the Board of Education,” said Doss. “He was extremely helpful. I couldn’t have asked for anyone better to work with.”
Faculty at the school also pitched in during the workshop, as well as local parents. Some of them—surprise!—showed up in the grand finale of the show, singing and dancing alongside their students and children.
A dozen families opened their homes to host the Young Americans, putting up as few as two and as many as seven cast members.
“That was a fun experience,” says Doss. “They’re nice young men and women, and fun to be around. And they must have been groomed for it—they all left thank you notes.”
The Young Americans began as a show choir in 1962, but for many years now they have been a music education troupe, bringing workshops like this one to school-aged children in communities across the states and around the world. They only return to the same regions of the US once every three years. The last time they visited Macon County was in 2009, and it’ll be 2015 before they come round these parts again.