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Recent Alumni Lead First SJND Theater Camp
Recent SJND alums Stephanie Sanchez ’17 and Peli Woods ’18 returned to campus this summer to lead SJND’s first ever theater camp, alongside SJND Theater Program Director Lauren Rosi. The camp, called Triple Threat, is a two-week intensive camp for grades 5-9 focused on singing, dancing and acting, which culminated in a show highlighting learnings from throughout the duration.
Those familiar with SJND’s theater program may recognize Stephanie and Peli, both of whom are now pursuing careers in theater arts, as standout stars in past SJND musicals, including ‘The Wiz’ and ‘Chicago’. Stephanie is now one of 20 actors-in-training in Fordham University’s Theater Performance program, while Peli is also preparing for a cross-country move this fall to study Musical Theater at Boston Conservatory at Berklee.
Both interested in working with youth, they say they jumped at the opportunity to learn from their former teacher and mentor, Ms. Rosi.
“I owe her so much,” Peli explained. “She’s incredible. I don’t know if any of this would have happened if it wasn’t for her - us going off to college and pursuing performance careers.”
“She really helped me find my light,” Stephanie added. “I think it’s safe to say that theater for the both of us was really the outlet we needed, and Ms. Rosi was the person we needed.”
Just as Ms. Rosi had inspired Stephanie and Peli to pursue their theater careers, both girls say they now aim to carry out what they learned from her by instilling confidence in youth and helping them find artistic outlets.
“A lot of [the participants] were nervous and hadn’t done this before. We really tried to get them to understand that [the camp] is a safe space...this is their time to practice and learn, there’s more time to grow.”
Throughout the camp, Stephanie, Peli and Ms. Rosi rotated teaching, with Stephanie leading the acting portion, Peli teaching vocals and Ms. Rosi heading up the choreography. The participants learned “acting hacks,” vocal techniques, music appreciation and basic dance moves, among other performance skills, bringing learnings to life through solos, monologues, scenes and group numbers. At the end of the program, the participants performed at a school-themed showcase, opening with “Revolting Children” from Matilda the Musical and closing with “You Can’t Stop the Beat” from Hairspray.
“The most gratifying thing was watching these kids push themselves and reach new levels they never thought were possible...Watching them have these 'Woah, I didn’t think I could do that!' moments. They were all feeding off of each other’s energy,” Stephanie and Peli explained.
Congratulations to all of the Triple Threat participants! We hope to see you on the SJND stage in the future!