‘Anything Goes’ at InnerRhythms camp | SierraSun.com
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‘Anything Goes’ at InnerRhythms camp

Ryan Salm/Sierra SunChildren participate in a performing arts camp "I can do Anything" at InnerRhythms dance studio in Truckee with actor Janet Lazarus. The camp focuses on teaching children 10 an up acting, voice lessons, dance, how to audition, and self-esteem.
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The chorus of “Anything you can do I can do better…” from the musical “Annie Get Your Gun” is just one of the songs children are learning this week as part of InnerRhythms’ summer performance art camp.

Janet Lazarus, acting coach, has taught drama camps in the Tahoe area since 2002. She said the four-day workshop titled “I Can Do Anything” for children ages 10 -12 tries to send a positive message through acting, singing and dance.

“We try to always do something that’s uplifting for self-esteem,” she said.



Lazarus led the circle of eager, barefoot children through several drama exercises designed to allow them to connect with each other on Monday. Nine-year-old Eliza McCullough is the first person chosen to imitate a “vomiting machine” using her best sound effects. Thirty seconds later, McCullough is joined by the rest of the class giggling and making overly zealous “Bleh!” sounds until Lazarus hits a drum to silence the activity.

“The first day is key in bonding with us, bonding with each other,” Lazarus said. “Really anything goes.”



Lazarus worked as a professional actor from the 1970s and into the 90s. She said she has been working as an acting coach for children’s drama camps in the Tahoe area, Reno and currently teaches at Sierra School of Performing Arts.

Accompanied by vocal coach, Kali Dobsen, the two agreed the workshop’s focus would be fun, with children hopefully leaving with higher self-esteem through the week’s activities.

“Everybody’s a star,” Dobsen said, while they’re participating in acting lessons or vocal techniques. She said in every camp she and Lazarus has taught there is always a shy person.

Dobsen said “shyness is catching” in a group of children, as each one takes their cue from the other, so the “get to know you exercises” come in handy to bring out their individuality.

Keeping the energy up is crucial to allow the shy children to break out of their shells, Dobsen said.

Elizabeth Archer, InnerRhythms artistic and executive director, said it’s important for children to trust their surroundings in order for them to get in touch with their emotions.

Archer said she is planning to choreograph a short routine to the song “I Can Do That,” from “Chorus Line,” for Lazarus’ students for them to dance at Thursday’s performance for family and friends.

The students will perform group skits, dance, and sing a selection of songs from musicals with the underlying inspirational theme tying the show together.

“We did a lot of fun songs,” said McCullough about learning the tune “I’d Do Anything” from “Oliver.”

Lazarus said there is a rift between the amount of participation of boys and girls, mostly because of the their age. She said that once girls hit the age of 12 they tend to become more introverted and less comfortable with themselves.

“I find theater really helps them stay connected,” Lazarus said. “If a boy is choosing to do this, he’s already pretty comfortable.”

Gaining a positive attitude and self-confidence can also be discovered through sports as well, but she said competitive sports aren’t for every child.

Archer said the Truckee Tahoe Youth Theater is now defunct, but did provide a performing arts outlet for children.

“We’re trying to bring it here (InnerRhythms),” Archer said.

– Watch what you say- Reward a child’s effort and completion of a task instead of the outcome.

– Be a positive role model- Nurture your own self-esteem because a child will most likely mirror their role model’s behavior.

– Identify accurate standards- Identify and redirect a child’s inaccurate beliefs he/she may have about his/her self image or ability so the child views him/herself in a positive way.

– Be affectionate- Praise a child with attention, hugs, and love.

– Positive Feedback

– Provide a safe environment- A child’s self-esteem suffers when parents are fighting or if the child is in abusive surroundings. A child’s self-confidence grows when he/she feels safe.

– Constructive experiences- Activities that encourage cooperation versus competition provide a means for kids to feel confident in themselves.

– Information provided by the Web site, http://www.kidshealth.org.


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