Idyllwild Arts teaches students mastery of their chosen arts disciplines. In addition, Academy teachers, of both academics and the arts, show students how to apply their creativity in areas that seem unconnected to the arts, which explains why Academy alums include scientists, surgeons, and business executives and entrepreneurs as well as successful artists.
And for students determined to make their way as artists, Academy teachers also find connections with people who already enjoy careers in the arts, so that the students can shine in front of them.
Exactly this happened on the evening of March 4 at the prestigious Rancho Mirage Library, an hour from the Idyllwild Arts campus. The Academy owes thanks to the administrators of this state-of-the-art library not only for hosting a Showcase of its student artists, but for providing a chance to share the spotlight with the evening’s special guest, Susan Stein, long-time fashion editor of Palm Springs Life and creative producer of Fashion Week El Paseo, the biggest fashion event on the West Coast.
Stein, who has taught at the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising, in Los Angeles, specializing in the History of Costume, offered to talk about fashion trends and innovation. With that, the entire Student Showcase took on a fashion theme. The Academy’s InterArts/Fashion Design majors receive regular lessons in fashion trends and innovation from their own Fashion Design teacher, Minnie Walters, and from InterArts Chair Abbie Bosworth, but the audience enjoyed Stein’s intimate inside-the-industry perspective.
While Stein was a very special guest, the talent of the student artists was also special. Idyllwild Arts Dance instructor Jonathan Sharp orchestrated a program of performances by students drawn from all of the Academy’s arts departments.
Spectators enjoyed two different fashion shows and a film reel highlighting the brilliance of the Film and Digital Media students. Musical Theatre major Sedona-Sky Duffy performed two songs, and Songwriting major Nikki Niermann sang her original composition, “Vision Board,” accompanying herself on the guitar. Nikki’s performance photo would be featured on the front page of the “Giving” section of The Desert Sun newspaper.
A number of Visual Arts majors showed their work, and Creative Writing major Rome Smaoui and Piano major Jiani Scarlet Liang also had their moments on center stage. Rome read from her work and Scarlet displayed her virtuosity with Chopin’s Ballade No. 2 in F major, Op. 38, among the most challenging pieces in the standard piano repertoire.
From Sharp’s own Dance Department, chaired by Ellen Rosa-Taylor, Arielle Lee Ming and Enoch Grubb performed their own choreographed piece and Mariana Ballesteros and Fabio Tello brought magic to the iconic “Black Swan” Pas de deux, from Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake. Finally, an ensemble of Dance students performed to Sharp’s choreography, accompanied by Scott Joplin’s ragtime music.
The student performances generated enough excitement among the hosts at the Library to provoke a suggestion that next year’s Student Showcase should take place in the larger venue of Rancho Mirage’s six-hundred-seat amphitheater.
The memories of these astonishingly talented student artists taken away by the spectators will surely bring them back to the 2021 Showcase.