Local Talent Shines at Gospel Extravaganza
by Teris Robinson
Pensacola Community Arts & Recreation Association (PCARA) held its 15th Annual Gospel Extravaganza at Pensacola High School Saturday. The event showcased talent by youth and young adults as they rendered an inspirational production.
A variety of acts performed liturgical and interpretive dance along with three drummers and a solo performance from a local gospel recording artist. The event is a result of PCARA Founder Leroy Williams’ vision to show the need for a performing arts center in the Pensacola area dedicated to providing a place for youth to grow, learn, and develop creativity and theatrical skills. Williams urged the audience, which included Rosewood Nursing home residents and staff as special guests and co-sponsors, to mobilize with PCARA in an effort to establish this “much-needed recreational center.” For nearly 30 years PCARA has worked with area youth to provide social and academic skills while sharing experiences which will enable them to successfully resist illegal drug use, teen pregancy and violence. PCARA was a pioneered in using the arts to achieve those goals.
Williams said the community needs to safeguard children against risk factors by increasing the protective factors which include: positive social bonding; commitment to school and family; and development of life skills through securing a structured learning environment providing young people with fun and non-judgmental activities that include acting, singing, dancing, even boxing, weight lifting, and aerobics.
Several of the featured acts have benefited from PCARA exposure. Ariel Perry, a 13yr old Bellview middle schooler whose performance of Tamela Mann’s TAKE ME TO THE KING left many audience members mesmerized at her first time solo and self choreographed dance performance. Perry said this type of exposure only motivates her to work on her craft. Monee Stokes, a 10 yr elementary school student and liturgical dance member of Morning Glory said she enjoyed being “taught to be the best dancer and best person” she could possibly be by her mentors and dance coaches at Zion Hope Primitive Baptist Church. Jessica Dennis, veteran liturgical dancer and co-choreographer for the famed MJJ Praise Dancers added that the 15th years they have been involved with this event have been, “15 years of being challenged to execute with excellence”. She said she recognizes that the youth coming after her should always be able to inspire others through interpretive dance and PCARA has identified and worked to fill a need in this community.
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