The Eastern New Mexico News - Serving Clovis, Portales and the Surrounding Communities

Learning and fun at ENMU choir, theater camps


May 24, 2018

My school had no choir, and my acting career was highlighted (or possibly nipped in the bud) by a second-grade appearance as a Moon Maiden in a Dora elementary school production of “Santa and the Spacemen.”

We Moon Maidens, in our homemade blue dresses festooned with construction paper moons, probably did sing, now that I think about it. So I guess I have choral experience … of a sort.

But I was the kind of kid who would have walked barefooted across a grass burr-infested pasture to attend a theater camp or a choir camp. If you know a kid like that, keep reading.

Eastern New Mexico University is welcoming young actors and singers to campus next month for exactly the experiences I longed for as a youth.

The inaugural ENMU Theater Arts and Drama Academy for Young People (happily abbreviated TADA), takes place June 4-8, and June 11-15, according to Patrick McCreary, instructor of technical theater and design, and director of TADA.

Students who will be entering fourth-sixth grades in the fall are invited to the morning sessions (9 a.m.-noon each day), while afternoons (1-4 p.m.) are reserved for students on their way to grades seven-nine this fall.

“Each week is unique, but students can continue their learning by taking both,” McCreary said. Cost is $75 per week, or $140 for both sessions. Signup can happen as late as opening day, but McCreary encourages earlier registration by calling 575-562-2711.

“Only a small fraction of those who undertake theatrical studies become professional actors,” McCreary said. “But the vast majority of those who have theater experience both in front of the curtain and behind are exposed to means of greater creativity, appreciation of others, thinking and speaking with clarity and learning to give of themselves well beyond those who have never had this experience.”

Students who love to sing, and who will be heading into ninth grade through their freshman year of college come August, should consider Eastern’s 13th annual choir camp, scheduled for June 10-14. (Yes, it overlaps with the second week of TADA, a hard choice for ninth graders who love musical theater.)

ENMU director of choirs Jason Paulk said June 1 is the deadline to sign up for this residential camp that acts as a preparation program for New Mexico All-State Choir.

More than 115 students have already registered, and “historically, about 75 percent of students who attend choir camp make the all-state choir the following year,” Paulk said.

“The focus is building individual vocal skills in the choral setting,” he said. “Students have the opportunity to learn two new solos in voice class, hone sight-reading skills, and learn the all-state audition piece for next year’s auditions.”

The cost, which includes housing and meals, is $285. Register online at camp, or by calling 575-562-2377.

Both camps offer skills to be mastered, plus plenty of fun.

I may have to sneak in. You never know when “Santa and the Spacemen” might see a revival.

Betty Williamson almost wishes she was 14 again. Reach her at:

[email protected]


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