A series of summer camps for future stage performers that used to be only for central Iowa students is going statewide this summer.

Because of the pandemic, in-person classes had to be canceled in favor of virtual gatherings. Karoline Myers, education manager at Des Moines Performing Arts, says the camps are designed for kids as young as pre-school all the way up through high school and college.

“At the younger age ranges, it’s really exploring and it’s creativity and it’s storytelling and tapping into some of those really fun drama exercises that also work on lots of other life skills and creativity,” Myers says. “And up at the older age groups, it’s really geared towards kids with a high degree of interest in performing arts, specifically musical theater.”

Registration is now open for the eight virtual summer camp opportunities which start this week. Based on ages, we have everything from story-writing and crafting original stories and plays with some of our younger camps and elementary students,” Myers says. “Then, we gear up towards more opportunities for kids to work on putting on a show together, even in the online format, so they get to collaborate as a cast of 20 actors. Everyone’s guaranteed a role and they get to put on a show in a week.”

All of the classes and camps will be held via Zoom with activities designed to keep participants moving. Four of the camps include an opportunity to work with Broadway professionals. “We’ll be working on musical theater dance skills, audition skills, acting techniques,” Myers says, “and then some industry chats with special guest artists that will be joining us from New York or wherever they’re making home right now during the pandemic.”

Some courses for the older students will focus on the so-called triple threat areas of musical theater — acting, dancing, and singing. At all age levels, Myers says there will be plenty of online social gatherings in this time of social distancing.
“We still want to make sure that even though it’s in this online format that kids are still making friends with other kids,” Myers says. ”

A lot of them have been home, they’ve been isolated, so building in that social time. It’s going to be different from school. We’ll definitely have you up, moving and interacting with our faculty and really getting creative and having a lot of fun — in your space from the safety of your home.”

Some of the classes meet once a week, while the week-long camps meet daily.