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Student cinema a bright spot as 2020 nears its finale

Students have closed the curtains on the recording of their production: “Awakening Strength.” Photo by Maddie Meilinger

Amidst the pandemic, Bear River’s Performing and Visual Arts programs are presenting “Awakening Strength,” a virtual show for the community to enjoy with the goal of being a spotlight in these dark times. 

Sara Noah, Bear River’s drama teacher, described what audiences can expect from this performance.

“‘Awakening Strength’ is a filmed compilation performance by our music, dance, theater, and visual art departments,” she said. “The performance includes a variety of pieces from each department ranging from acapella and instrumental music performances, to solo and duet dance, to student photography and art, to spoken word poetry, monologues, and scenes.”

Some examples of these performances include an acapella version of “In my life” by the Beatles performed by Jazz Unlimited, scenes from the Broadway production “Wicked” performed by Bear River’s drama class, and student choreographed dances performed by Bruin dancers. 

With the strict COVID-19 regulations, many performances organized by the performing and visual arts community at Bear River were cancelled. Senior Noah Dunhower, a member of Jazz Unlimited, explained how the pandemic affected the programs.

“It has been a really rough year for our performing arts groups,” said Senior Noah Dunhower. “A lot of our concerts got cancelled before and that was months of work and practice down the drain. We had to do something; however, since it was almost impossible to rehearse as whole groups, we had to get this production done pretty quickly, and weren’t able to do everything we hoped.”

Mrs. Noah expressed similar remorse for the performing arts’ inability to present their work to the community.

“The arts teachers here at Bear River felt the loss of fall performances very deeply, especially since we are all artists ourselves,” she said. “This summer, both Erin Beatie [Bear River’s Theater Manager and Technical Theater teacher] and I took part in a compilation performance with local artists called ‘The Summit’ and thought that we could transfer that idea and experience to our art students and community here at Bear River.  We still need to foster the creative spirit in these challenging times, and we had to get creative in order to do so.”

Taking into consideration the pandemic, several students who are involved with the production have found a special message through the production’s title, “Awakening Strength,” and shared their thoughts.

“The name ‘Awakening Strength’ to me is about rebirth during a dark time,” said Junior Leilani Sauvageau. “Many of the pieces the drama class did were about being reborn and discovering a strength within you.”

“During these hard times, we all need some strength, normalcy, and light back into our arts programs, and I think the name of the show really represents this ‘strength,’” said fellow Junior Alexa Tran.

“We want to come out of this COVID crisis stronger, more creative, and more humane people,” said Mrs. Noah. “We’d also like our audiences to be uplifted and encouraged by our creativity and expression in the arts.”

Dunhower elaborated upon the passion many of these performing arts students have for what they do, including his fellow students in Jazz Unlimited.

“Jazz Unlimited actually learned the song in a couple days, and our first in-person rehearsal took place right before recording,” he said. “We really wanted to have something, and even though it was last-minute, it’s something we’re glad to have put together.”

Community members can enjoy this performance on Thursday, December 17 at 7 p.m. at 

“We also welcome any and all donations, as we have all lost revenue by not having performances both last spring and this fall,” said Mrs. Noah. “Thank you so much for your support of the arts at Bear River High School.”

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Student cinema a bright spot as 2020 nears its finale