The incredible Abby Hanna recently spoke with the Youth Arts Center Staff to discuss her involvement with many of the programs who call MYAC home. She herself calls it her second home.
Today is the start of the Summer Academy at First Stage and the MYSO Steel Drum Camp, so what a better way to share in the excitement of that than to share Abby’s experiences.
We understand that you've been in MYSO, First Stage, Milwaukee Ballet, Children's Choir, and Danceworks--how do you balance all of these activities?
Yes. I am involved in all of these organizations, but not all of them at the same time. I believe that having a good support system is the key and also staying focused and organized. All the activities that I am part of require an extreme amount of focus, organization, discipline and devotion. I am able to balance most activities because, in a way, they are all connected—singing, acting, dancing and playing musical instruments. And of course, the reward is performing in front of an audience.
I live in the moment, in the present. Not in the future. So I maintain a certain degree of focus and relaxation. This could not possibly be done without the support of my parents, grandparents, and my little sister Andrea.
What arts programs are you currently involved in?
I just completed a year in advance Musical Theater. I was a cast member (Lilly) in the First Stage Production of Lilly’s Purple Plastic Purse. I play cello with MYSO's Metropolitan Symphony Orchestra, and I’m in Ballet 5 at the Milwaukee Ballet.
Do you have a favorite art form (music/theater/dance)? Why do you like to participate in so many different art forms?
Honestly, I love everything (music/ acting/dancing) because expressing music in different ways is what I like best. To choose one over the other is very difficult. I feel that the variety makes me a more well-rounded person. And, really all of the activities are like fitting together the pieces of a puzzle—making me who I am. I love the arts in all its forms. It makes me feel free and it is a way of expressing myself—my thoughts and beliefs.
Music is my passion. It gives me strength and makes me more human. It brings out the best qualities in me. Theater makes me more confident and brave. I feel I can conquer the world when I’m performing.
What instruments do you play?
Cello is my primary instrument. Since the age of five, I’ve played piano. In the 4th grade, I began playing the flute, which is what I play in my School Band.
What's your experience at the Milwaukee Youth Arts Center been like? Do you have a favorite memory that took place here?
My experience has been remarkable! MYAC is my 2nd home. Without MYAC, I would not have had the opportunities in the past nor in the present. MYAC is the center place that holds all of the organizations together. For me, there is one special room in MYAC— The Shakespeare Room. It was the very first room that I used in progressions, and then for my Chamber Ensemble Bach group, First Stage Academy classes, auditions, and choir lessons. It’s so cool to think that all these amazing things can happen within the walls of one room!
A favorite memory is the recent MYSO Gala Night, Pathways to Success event, when we celebrated MYSO’s 2015 National Arts & Humanity Youth Program award. I had the honor of playing a cello duet with my friend, Malik.
What's your favorite thing about being a multi-disciplinary artist? Have you found connections between your work as a musician, singer, and dancer?
I am so fortunate to be able to do all my favorite things: Sing, dance, act, and play cello.These forms of art go hand in hand to my advantage. For instance, on many occasions I have been ahead of the game; as a singer I’m sensitive to the musicians, and as a musician I’m sensitive to the one singing, as a dancer, I am able to express the music with my body, mind and soul. I hope that all of this helps me to be a better performer on stage.
And one other general question--how did you guys learn about MYSO, First Stage, Children's Choir, and Danceworks? We ask because we've been seeing that many students come to MYAC for one program, and then through being at MYAC they actually learn about another program that fits their interests. We call these "crossover" students who maybe come to MYAC for MYSO and then end up joining Danceworks (who is another of our artistic partners). I'm just curious if that's the case with Abby.
My mom learned about the Milwaukee Children’s Choir over the internet. I was so excited to join because I love to sing. When I walked through the hallways at MYAC, to choir, I loved to hear the music of the MYSO kids. My music teacher, at my school, recommended me to the Progressions program. I was ecstatic to become part of MYSO. Then, since we used to come often to MYAC, we learned that First Stage was offering summer classes and that is when I joined the First Stage Academy.
(Maggy Hanna (Mom) responded) Absolutely! However, because Abby has a passion for so many forms of art, she stays with what she was doing, and crosses over at the same time.
Please visit any of our Program Partner's Web Sites to learn how you can become part of one of the many opportunities they have to offer. Make MYAC your second home also.
Are you a student, parent, or teacher at the Milwaukee Youth Arts Center? Would you like to write a guest blog post?